GKA Blog

During the 19th Century there was a growing sense that universal healthcare provision was the sign of a civilised society. However, it wasn't until the Second World War, which saw the introduction of a widespread emergency medical service and led to major systemic changes in society, that the foundations of the NHS were truly laid. So in 1948, the old mix of paid-for and charitable provision was replaced by a national healthcare provision that was free to all, something that remains the largest publicly funded healthcare service in the world. Within the British healthcare service, there is a structured medical hierarchy that until 2005 had changed little over the decades, with NHS doctors categorised according to their level of training, experience and specialty.

What is purchasing and procurement? Purchasing and procurement refers to the process of acquiring different goods, works and services to help support the clinical priorities, health and wellbeing outcomes, and organisational objectives of the NHS. It is separate from commissioning, which is the process of determining the healthcare needs of the local population and providing the services to do so. Purchasing and procurement arrangements compliment commissioning arrangements to ensure that Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) can serve their local populations appropriately.

Market research online communities (MROCs) are bringing healthcare market research into the 21st century, offering an innovative way for researchers to take advantage of the fact that today we are living in a digital world. As we discussed in a previous blog, market research online communities are employing web interfaces and social media tools to learn directly from patients about their experiences.

What is commissioning? At its most basic level, commissioning is the process of planning, agreeing, buying and monitoring healthcare provision in order to meet the needs of patients in England. This involves commissioning or developing services within the internal NHS market, and also buying in services from private providers.

In today's healthcare environment, patient empowerment is a top concern. Pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers often tout it, advising patients that they can and should be directly involved in deciding on their treatment options. Even the government is actively encouraging patient choice and working to educate people on how they can select their own GPs, hospitals, consultants, and treatments.

Cancer remains the second largest cause of death in the UK. While diagnosis and treatments continue to improve thanks to the work done by world-leading researchers and specialist experts, there is still much to learn, and a very long way to go, before we can completely defeat this dreadful disease. One scientific area that may yet prove to be highly influential in discovering a cure for cancer is cancer stem cell research. One place dedicated to pioneering, world-leading research and improving our understanding of the role cancer stem cells play is the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute.

Wearable technology may be relatively new, but it's already having a huge impact on the healthcare industry. From sensors that monitor blood pressure or predict heart attacks, to those showing surgeons how many steps patients take after cardiac surgery, patients and clinicians are already seeing big benefits. Something that looks likely to continue. What these innovations can achieve in the future seems limitless. Those in the know anticipate massive growth in wearable technology over the next few years - some estimates predict the global market will be worth over $6 billion by 2018. Over a third of the wearable tech used today is health related, largely thanks to widespread diabetes and an aging global population. Those are some big numbers, so it's no surprise the healthcare industry is at the forefront of exploring the possibilities of this imminent boom.

To the uninitiated, healthcare may not seem like a fast-moving area. After all, the NHS is the largest employer in the UK so it would be logical that it would take a long time for such a big ship to change course. In practice, however, this perception could not be further from the truth and the NHS is in an almost constant state of flux. Keeping up with the shifting sands of healthcare can seem like a full-time job, so we offer a quick snapshot of the most important recent changes.