Digital healthcare: the impact of information and communication technologies on healthcare

08 December 2006

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to transform radically the delivery of healthcare and address future health challenges, such as an ageing population and an increase in chronic diseases. Whether they actually do so will depend on the design and implementation processes sufficiently accounting for the users' needs, and the provision of adequate support and training after their introduction.

The Royal Society established a working group in May 2005 to look at developments in ICTs and their potential impacts on, and implications for, health and healthcare over the next 10-15 years. The working group included experts in range of subjects including computing, economics, engineering, information systems, medicine, nursing and social science.

An open call for evidence was issued in May and a range of organisations and individuals submitted written evidence by September 2005. Three workshops were held with scientific and technological experts, healthcare professionals and patient groups' representatives to ensure the working group was aware of the views of the various stakeholders concerned with healthcare information and communication technologies.

The report makes recommendations relating to:

  • the design, implementation and evaluation of ICTs
  • access and ownership of data
  • ensuring interoperability
  • the impact on roles and responsibilities of healthcare professionals, patients and carers
  • learning, training and support.

Written evidence

The organisations and individuals who submitted written evidence between May and September 2005 are listed below, with links to this evidence.

The call for evidence noted that we intended to make evidence received publicly available unless the author concerned asked us not to. For practical reasons we have excluded material that has already been published elsewhere. The submissions represent the views of their authors and not necessarily the views of the Royal Society.

Organisations who responded to the call for evidence

  • Association of British Healthcare Industries
  • BIOCORE , Biomedical Computing Research Group, Coventry University & Centre for Systems Studies, Hull University Business School
  • Branham Group , Canada
  • British Medical Association
  • Cambridge-MIT Institute's Future of Healthcare Knowledge Integration Community
  • CODEWORKS Assistive Technology Lab
  • Digital Unite (formerly Hairnet UK Ltd)
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine
  • Institution of Engineering and Technology (formerly IEE)
  • NCRI Cancer Informatics Initiative
  • NHS Confederation
  • NHS Connecting for Health a
  • NHS Connecting for Health b
  • Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council
  • Precarn and University of Calgary, Canada
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Royal College of Radiologists
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • UK Computing Research Committee
  • University of Edinburgh Interdisciplinary eHealth Research Network
  • University of Surrey
  • Vodafone Mobile Health Team
  • Worshipful Company of Information Technologists

Individuals who responded to the call for evidence

  • Professor Ross Anderson, Foundation for Information Policy Research
  • Professor James Barlow, Deputy Director, Innovation Studies Centre, Tanaka Business School, Imperial College London
  • Dr Maulik Baxi, Taxila Centre for Medical Reforms & Research
  • Janette Bennett, ATOS -KMPG Consulting
  • Dr Ewan Birney, European Bioinformatics Institute
  • Professor Donald Bligh, School of Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics, University of Exeter
  • Professor Budgen and Professor Pearl Brereton, School of Computing and Maths, Keele University
  • Lynne Hayward, RGN Practice Nurse
  • Dr Ashok Jain, EMPI Business School, Delhi University, India
  • Professor Richard Lilford, Director of Research and Evaluation, Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham (CfH)
  • Professor Carl May, Health Technologies and Human Relations Research Group, University of Newcastle
  • Professor Paula Procter, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield
  • Melvin Reynolds, AMS Consulting
  • Professor Michael Rigby, Centre for Health Planning and Management, Keele University
  • Professor Lionel Tarassenko , University of Oxford

Additional evidence

The organisations and individuals below submitted evidence on particular issues in response to requests from working group members.

Organisations who submitted additional evidence

  • BUPA
  • Connecting for Health
  • Nuffield Hospitals
  • Royal College of Nursing Library
  • Royal College of Nursing Wales

Individuals who submitted additional evidence

  • Professor David Fitzmaurice, Department of Primary Care and General Practice, University of Birmingham
  • Dr David Kelly, West Lothian Community Health & Care Partnership
  • Sue Middleton, Ipswich Hospital Cancer Services User Group
  • Sir J A Muir Gray, University of Oxford
  • Dr Kenneth Robertson, Clinical Lead for Information Management and Technology, Scottish Executive Health Department
  • Jenny Shaw, Ipswich Hospital Carers User Group
  • Dr Gwyn Thomas, Director, Informing Healthcare (Wales)
  • Professor Terry Young , Brunel University / MATCH

Organisations and individuals who met with members of the working group

  • Professor David Ingram, Director of Centre for Health Informatics & Multiprofessional Education (CHIME)
  • Dr Dipak Kalra, senior clinical lecturer at CHIME
  • Dr Jo Milan, former director of ICT at the Royal Marsden Hospital

Evidence gathering workshops

The stakeholder workshops were an important part of the study. They helped to identify potential new information and communication technologies with applications in health and healthcare and provided an opportunity to discuss the drivers and barriers for the development of relevant new ICTs, along with the strengths and weaknesses of specific ICTs.

Healthcare professionals and patient groups representatives workshops

OPM (Office for Public Management Ltd, an independent, not-for-profit public interest company) was commissioned by the Royal Society to run two workshops and conduct a number of telephone interviews to provide patients, their representatives and healthcare professionals with an opportunity to contribute their views on future issues in healthcare and how the developments in ICT in the next 10 15 years might impact on healthcare.

Healthcare professionals
- 12 attended the healthcare professional workshop (1 November 2005)
- 17 telephone interviews were carried out with healthcare professionals.

Patient support groups
- 9 attended the patient group workshop (4 November 2005)
- 16 telephone interviews were carried out with patient support professionals.

Working group members attended the workshop and a report of the interviews and workshops informed the study.

Science & technology evidence gathering workshop

More than 20 individuals from academia, industry and funding bodies attended the workshop along with eight members of the digital health working group on 24 October 2006. Full details of the attendees are given in the workshop report.