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Tesco knows more about its customers than NHS does its patients

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 5 days ago Laura Donnelly
Matthew Hancock standing in front of a fence: Health Secretary Matt Hancock - PA © Provided by Local News RSS EN-GB Health Secretary Matt Hancock - PA

Tesco knows more about customers than the NHS does about its patients, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock urged the health service to embrace new technology in order to provide personalised care and save lives.

And he warned that the health service does not even keep basic records on which devices have been implanted into patients, nor track their medical history properly.

Video: TESCO, THE BEST SHOP IN THE UK! (Press Association)

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Speaking at the launch of a report on how the NHS needs to plan for a digital future, he said that the health service was a decade behind modern businesses, in several respects.

“We want to harness the power of technology to shape it as a force for good in order to deliver better for the NHS and to save lives,” he told the event in London.

© Getty

“Right now, Tesco has a more sophisticated and more efficient technological system than the NHS. They know who you are from the loyalty card to where you shop, from store IDs to what you buy, and the items scanned at the checkout.

“That wealth of information means…they can shape the offer with a personalised service in order to deliver for you the customer,” he said.

“And they’re delivering groceries. The NHS doesn't have anything like that yet.”

© PA

By contrast, he said, the NHS does not know always know which hospitals patients have visited or which medicines they have been given in the past.

“We don't even record what devices are put into people,” he said. “If Tesco can do this with groceries by God we need to do it with life saving operations for the NHS.”

The report was commissioned in 2017 by then health secretary Jeremy Hunt to set out how to train staff to keep up with new technology.

© Getty

It was led by US geneticist Dr Eric Topol, who said that within a decade, it will be “standard” practice for elderly patients to be offered tracking in their own homes, in order to monitor health risks.

And he said the NHS would employ “virtual health coaches” to nudge families into healthier lifestyles as part of efforts to meet rising pressure on services.

Launched at the Royal Society for Medicine, Mr Hancock compared the review’s findings to the forward thinking of Charles Darwin, Edward Jenner and Alexander Fleming.

He said it was not “about having the latest gizmos” but about saving lives.

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