Why healthcare providers will win public support for implementing digital solutions
13 December 2018
A recent survey reported by the HSJ shows that the public’s highest priorities for new NHS funding are cancer care and staffing, while their lowest are digital access and better services for vulnerable groups.
While it is understandable that the public would choose ‘clinical’ over ‘digital’ in a binary choice, we should be very clear in our viewpoint that , the two things are not mutually exclusive and that we need to be making the case for how digital will bring enormous benefits to patients, not just in terms of processes but also in terms of the quality of their own treatment and care.
In his first speech after being appointed Health and Social Care Secretary in July 2018, Matt Hancock said: “From today, let this be clear – tech transformation is coming.” This statement could not have come sooner. Technology is already transforming how people live, work and play, but the healthcare sector has, to date been slow in taking advantage of these developments, and in many cases, is playing catch up with other industries.
With increasingly strained budgets, an increase in chronic conditions and an ageing population that will require more care in the future; a renewed priority and focus on technology will be central to the transformational change required by today’s NHS. If properly integrated into an organisation’s overall strategy, technology can enable reform across the system which can, in turn, contain costs, improve access and save lives.
We are working with health providers, life sciences and technology companies across the globe to create a ‘digital’ vision for health in the future that is engaging for staff, patients and service users.
The challenge faced by providers, life sciences and technology companies is to create a vision based on the bigger picture:
- Every penny saved by digitising processes and driving up productivity can be reinvested into better treatments.
- Digital advances are leading to improved treatment of conditions, from Artificial Intelligence to analyse genomic data to the use of mobile devices and IoT technologies, to enhance patient engagement and clinical trials for new therapies and drugs.
- Care delivery uses technology to communicate and monitor patients’ health in new ways. Using wearables and apps, for example, to keep patients informed and in control of their own health, particularly for chronic conditions. Virtualisation of medical consultations can enable clinicians to manage a higher number of patients without the need for physical presence.
- Technology enabled care logistics can transform the efficiency of managing patients through the health system, for example by automating referrals and notifications, managing appointments and treatment schedules online and digitising forms.
- Care management technologies are able to focus on empowering patients to manage their own health and wellbeing, giving them control through information, apps and online communities that can improve preventative actions and lifestyle choices.
Our own research shows that patients see some clear advantages for the introduction of AI and tech to the healthcare industry. There is clearly a journey that patients are on in accepting new technologies but there is more work to be done on reassuring them that the new developments will continue to prioritise their relationships with the staff whom they interact with.
However, if just a proportion of the UK population start to use more services delivered through technology it could begin to deliver savings by freeing up both staff and resources. This could, in turn, make a serious contribution to addressing the huge financial challenges facing the health system in the UK.