Progress in healthcare can come from changes to the way clinical work is done. An example is interventional radiology, which combines radiological investigation with treatment, in a single step. It moves radiological technologies, such as MRI, CT, Ultrasound, from being mere diagnostic technologies to integration into the surgical work itself.
So why the slow uptake in the UK where a couple of years ago the Healthcare Commission, in one of its investigations, noted that this approach to treatment would have probably saved lives?
The NHS is a slow and late adopter of technologies. Difficulties giving the necessary clinical freedom to health professionals means that important leading edge, but proven technologies, are slow to be adopted. The exploration of novel approaches to offering clinical services, outside of hospitals, for instance, in free-standing “theranostic” (therapy and diagnostic) clinics would not only advance the cause of patients, but achieve a step change in service delivery by NHS providers. Why aren’t the newly freed Foundation Trusts getting on the business of developing services wrapped around this approach to care?
People are obviously of good intent by urging reviews of funding to elected officials in the suitably hushed setting of the House of Commons, but in the gritty reality of healthcare delivery, creative solutions are needed to address not only the timely implementation of interventional radiology, but also overcome the fear of change, of novel technologies and of changes to clinical practice that change and technology brings.