How will Brexit impact the digital health sector?

Brexit. A word may people have become rather used to hearing over the last few years – and a word that brings uncertainty and unpredictability along with it. Ever since the British public voted to leave the European Union two years ago, leading names have had their say on what may happen next.

And yet we still don’t really know.

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What’s certain, though, is that Brexit will have an impact on our lives. Our healthcare systems, and more specifically, DigitalHealth, will be affected by the United Kingdom leaving the EU.

Whilst the NHS confederation chief Stephen Dalton admitted it was “impossible to predict” the impact of Brexit on the healthcare system, “the resulting insecurities of this result will be felt strongly across the health service”.
Funding for the NHS, and for Digital Health transformation in the NHS, is already sparse, and the funding gap that exists in the UK is at risk of widening with the UK’s departure from the EU.

The ‘transformation fund’ that was secured by the NHS was originally supposed to pay for digital investment envisaged under the ‘Five Year Forward View’, but instead it has been used to cover losses in other areas.
The Brexit Health Alliance also warns that unless an appropriate exit deal is reached - which currently looks rather unlikely – medical technologies could be delayed in reaching patients, and new innovations may even be cut from development altogether. According to their briefing paper, around 750 UK clinical trials could be at risk if a coherent Brexit deal is not reached.

Who are the Brexit Health Alliance?
The alliance brings together the NHS, medical researchers and public health organisations, aiming to ‘safeguard the interests of patients and the healthcare research they rely on’.

Nearly 62% of all imported health tech used in the NHS comes directly from the EU, which brings the issue of Brexit into focus. It is difficult to predict with any certainty what kind of impact Brexit will have on uptake and innovation from the Digital Health area – but one assumes it can only be negative.

Brexit, in whatever form it takes, will have an impact on the Digital Health sector.
But whatever the outcome, both the government and the NHS need to put the future of patients first and digital health tools could be the most sustainable solution. 

If you are looking to develop your own digital health tool, then take a look at our free guide.
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Written by Luke Byerley

Marketing Co-Ordinator at Evolyst.

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