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Rachel Dunscombe, right, with NHS Digital's Rachel Murphy at the 2017 CIO 100 celebration reception in London

Salford Royal Group Director of Digital, Rachel Dunscombe, cited machine learning and artificial intelligence as some of the emerging technologies that could have the biggest benefits to the healthcare sector.

Speaking to CIO UK contributor Scott Carey at the 2017 CIO 100 celebration reception at the Waldorf Hotel in London, Dunscombe said that innovations around Big Data provided a huge opportunity which should materialise over the next year.

"We've got really big challenges in healthcare," Dunscombe said. "My challenge is to make healthcare - and our local health economy in Greater Manchester - viable, safe, and more economic.

"So for me, the coming year is all about the Big Data side of it. And that's going to be the new frontier along with artificial intelligence, machine learning - which allows us to automate more of the diagnostic process.

"Those are challenges we've started work on and in the next year we're going to see those actually bringing benefits and operationalised into care settings. It's going to take time before we are doing this en masse; these are very early days - but it is real now."

Dunscombe was previously CIO of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust before taking on the CIO role at the broader Salford Royal Group - an NHS exemplar organisation - where she now has the title Director of Digital.

The CIO 100 high-flyer said that it was important for CIOs from different sectors to get together and bounce ideas off each other, and praised her peers in healthcare and NHS technology.

"As a profession CIOs need to be able to network, we need to be able to share our knowledge, our stories and have that network we know we can put that call into," she said.

"We've got some wonderful CIOs nationally in healthcare and much wider."

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