Topol Report highlights importance of digital technology in NHS

The Topol Review, an independent report on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, was released on 11 February 2019, outlining how digital technology may affect the future of healthcare and NHS staff.

The review, led by cardiologist, geneticist, and digital medicine researcher Dr Eric Topol, explores how to prepare the healthcare workforce, through education and training, to deliver the digital future. Dr Topol appointed a review board and three expert advisory panels. HEE provided the secretariat team to facilitate the review.

It makes recommendations that are designed to enable NHS staff to make the most of innovative technologies such as genomics, digital medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics to improve services. These recommendations support the aims of the NHS Long-Term Plan, and the workforce implementation plan, helping to ensure a sustainable NHS.

The review advises on:

  • How technological and other developments (including genomics, artificial intelligence, digital medicine and robotics) are likely to change the roles and functions of clinical staff in all professions over the next two decades to ensure safer, more productive, more effective and more personal care for patients
  • What the implications of these changes are for the skills required by the professionals filling these roles, identifying professions or sub-specialisms where these may be particularly significant
  • The consequences for the selection, curricula, education, training, development and lifelong learning of current and future National Health Service staff.


Commenting on the Topol Review, Harry Evans, researcher at The King’s Fund, said: "Technology underpins some of the most ambitious targets in the NHS long-term plan so it is vital that staff are able to use digital tools and understand the data they generate. The Topol Review makes a number of welcome recommendations to create a digitally-savvy workforce with the knowledge and flexibility to embrace emerging technologies.

"At a time when staff have never been more stretched, technology has an important role to play in making life easier for over-burdened nurses, doctors and other staff, freeing them up to focus on supporting patients. As well as training staff to use technology, new systems should be designed to reduce the daily pressures facing NHS workers."

Royal College of Physicians president, Professor Andrew Goddard, added: "We welcome this important review into the impact of new technologies on the medical workforce. Technology is advancing fast and it can bring immense benefit when it is safe, person centred and used to support the role of clinicians.

“We need to act now to ensure that our workforce is fully equipped to make the best use of advancements. But we must also make sure that roll out of technology across the NHS is measured, responsible and done safely. Regulation and critical appraisal is vital in ensuring constant evaluation and improvement – which doctors must play an active role in.”


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