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Earlier this year, Health Secretary Matt Hancock outlined his forward-thinking plans to help people take responsibility for staying healthy. It’s a plan we at Pharmacy2U wholly support, and while it’s a drum we have been beating for some time, it is now clear that technology and personalisation are paving the way for truly preventative healthcare.

As personalisation becomes universal through RFID (radio-frequency identification) tracking monitors, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, specifically targeted blood tests, and DNA mapping, consumer expectation grows and we need to meet their demands. The rate of personalisation in healthcare is rapid and paving the way for truly preventative healthcare, but in my view we have barely scratched the surface.

Technology has transformed industries from retail to travel, and in 2019 I expect to see more giant leaps made in positively impacting healthcare and putting patients more in control of their own health. A healthcare system centred around the patient is the future of the NHS and I envisage a world where every individual will be given the technology to empower themselves to control and adapt their own healthcare requirements.

Some key innovations in healthcare to look out for next year include:

Artificial Intelligence

Already artificial intelligence is being used to predict the onset of disease in some areas, while our giant vending machine like robots at Pharmacy2U use it to dispense over half a million items of medicine to our users each month

Virtual Reality

This is another innovation that can revolutionise the healthcare industry, from developing life-saving techniques to training the doctors of the future. It is already being used to help paralysed patients to walk by training with brain-controlled robotic systems and its long-term potential is enormous

Wearable Sensors 

The emergence of health sensors is paving the way and speeding up preventative healthcare. They are part of the Internet of Things and provide a way to keep a constant monitor on vitals, in a hospital and outside of a healthcare environment.

In line with our exponential level of growth over the past 18 months, I predict the future of smart pharma will continue taking bigger steps towards digital, where the majority of medicines will be ordered online and delivered to your home within hours – in the same way people order other goods like books, but with the appropriate level of sign-off from a healthcare professional.

As Charles Darwin said, it’s not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. We need to embrace technology in healthcare because patients need it, and so does the NHS. Patient numbers are on the rise and for the NHS to increase its own life expectancy, digital innovation has to be at the heart of its operations and driving the efficiencies it greatly needs in 2019 and beyond.