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Highlights from the WIRED Health Conference 2024

We enjoyed an interesting day hearing about tech and healthcare at the recent WIRED Health conference. The conference brings together speakers and attendees from across the tech, life sciences and public sectors to discuss and collaborate on new trends in the health space. Here are some of our highlights and key talking points from the day:

Consumer Products and Health

The use of wearables for consumers to understand their own health needs continues to be a popular trend. Tech and life sciences companies are developing increasingly advanced devices to measure various aspects of an individual’s health. Much of the discussion at the conference related to how the data generated by wearables could be harnessed to improve health outcomes, whether through encouraging individuals to make healthier choices to more ambitious goals of using connected devices to deliver real-time personalised medicine based on live readings. For more discussion of this trend, see our ‘Trends in digital health’ series.

Fixing the Fractured NHS

When Nye Bevan first proposed establishing a National Health Service, one of his key aims was to address the regional health inequalities and fractured systems that existed at the time. The issues of the modern NHS with data integration and technology procurement would have been familiar to him.  

A number of speakers emphasised the need to increase integration and interoperability of NHS data in order to improve patient outcomes. A talk by Dr Christina Pagel, a professor of operation research at UCL, highlighted the difficulties parents of children with complex healthcare needs experience in accessing and organising healthcare appointments. Many of the issues could be resolved through better data recording and sharing practices. The need to make NHS data more readily available to third parties to help catalyse scientific research is another issue that was considered and is something Bristows has highlighted previously (See ‘The European health data space (race)’).

It appears that the issue of data integration in the NHS is attracting political attention. Wes Streeting, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care spoke about the need for increased data interoperability to avoid patients having to recite their medical history at each new appointment. He also spoke about embracing new technology to provide a more efficient NHS. A key part of his proposal around technology is implementing a more streamlined procurement system that is easy for suppliers to understand and take advantage of the NHS as the major buyer in the market, rather than the current systems that is organised at the individual NHS trust level.

Nexus Between the Environment and Health

In contrast to the trend towards personalisation facilitated by wearables and increasingly focused data-driven healthcare, there was also discussion about how the environment around us is a key factor in health.

Poor air quality has been correlated with causing and exacerbating a range of different health conditions. A talk from Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, mother of the first person in the world to have air pollution listed as a cause of death and founder of the Ella Roberta Foundation campaigning for cleaner air, emphasised the human cost of failing to address pollution. Stakeholders in the healthcare sector and beyond were encouraged to approach environmental issues not only from the perspective of fulfilling regulatory requirements, but also to consider the health impact of the decisions they take on their community.


health, conference, wired, nhs, environment, health tech