This will almost certainly prove to be a controversial post. I don't intend to offend, but I do wish to stimulate debate.
The hypothesis of the debate is that since the creation of the National Health Service in 1947, the UK health care sector has not been conducive to developing new technologies.
Although this has been in my mind for a while a piece of evidence came to me in a presentation on medical imaging at the IET London Local Network last night by Teresa Robinson, a Consultant Clinical Scientist in Bristol. Thanks for that Teresa, although I must stress that these are my views. Teresa showed that the early Computed Tomography (CT) research and development was done in the UK by EMI. The presentation also noted various British luminaries in the advancement of medical imaging.
EMI made a huge commercial success from innovations in such areas as radar, millimeter waves, microwave and CRT. This spans a period from WW2 through to recent decades. For some reason, EMI could not repeat that success with CT (which is also in the radiating electrophysics domain) and EMI abandoned its efforts in that arena. Now, just a few decades on, the CT industry is dominated by Siemens of Germany, GE of the US, Phillips of the Netherlands and Toshiba of Japan. These are all countries with what you might call progressive health care systems.
What went wrong? Perhaps EMI did not find a domestic marketplace full of clients ready to try new techniques?
I feel that customers drive innovation. It is their hunger to do things better, faster or cheaper that compels industry to satiate that hunger. Free health care at the point of delivery is a great vision, but have we lost the leading edge? Are the two mutually exclusive?
Tags: technology, Health care, innovation, NHS, National Health Service, UK, medical imaging, CT, Computed Tomography, GE, Siemens, Phillips