BCS report advocates the creation of a 'clinical satnav'

BCS report advocates the creation of a 'clinical satnav'

According to BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, computer-driven support for clinical decisions and diagnoses should become a mainstream part of the NHS.

Its latest paper Building a 'clinical satnav' for practitioners and patients explains how computable knowledge can transform healthcare, for example by lowering the use of antibiotics with better application of antibiotic guidelines.

Dubbed a "clinical satnav", this support could guide clinicians on which tests to order and how to interpret the results, suggest possible diagnoses and provide options for treatment and care.

In order to achieve this, accurate, standardised, computable forms of clinical guidance and systems that are able to talk to each other across the UK are needed, says the report.

Dr Philip Scott, Chair of BCS Health and Care, said:

“Tech is vital to the NHS so we need to invest in the infrastructure and new ways of working for computable knowledge to be used to its full capacity.

“Computer-driven, healthcare decision support already exists to a limited extent, but we must catch up with other fields. In banking, shopping and travel, computational support for personal and expert decision-making is commonplace and often seamless. Peoples’ needs are understood so intimately that there’s little difficulty recommending suitable films, food and holidays for them."

The study claims that a connected system of computable knowledge will drastically reduce the time between research findings being published in journals and when they get adopted into clinical practice.

Several initiatives in this field are already underway with NHS England, Health Education England, NHS Scotland and NICE. The report calls for these programmes to accelerate and move forward collaboratively.

The paper outlines technical, cultural, institutional, financial and strategic challenges to overcome in order to move research and healthcare systems to create and use computable knowledge. The report also highlights areas where computable knowledge and decision support would help healthcare professionals to reduce errors, and enhance safety and quality.

This report follows the recent Goldacre review, which was commissioned by the government and made a range of recommendations on how the NHS can better use its health data for research.

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