The National Health Service (NHS) has many challenges to face including finite funding, lack of resourcing and NHS England’s worst A&E times on record last winter.
One strategy suggested to alleviate some of these issues is digital technology, including telemedicine. Telemedicine will allow remote contact between multiple healthcare practitioners, such as allowing them to simultaneously review and discuss patients’ cases via meeting rooms with video collaboration technology, or between patients and their healthcare practitioners, for example remote GP consultations as discussed in a previous MAP news post here. Our MedTech pages also discuss the concept of Telehealth in the UK.
In July 2018 the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, announced in his speech regarding his priorities for the NHS that he believes technology offers an opportunity for improving patient outcomes without placing ever more pressure on staff. There has been some success in this area already, for example he supported the use of the remote GP consultation app, highlighted the effectiveness of a social care home’s electronic care planning system, mentioned a machine which measures blood coagulation at the home and emails it to the hospital, a barcode tracking system ‘Scan4Safety’ used in hospitals to enable staff to track all patients and their treatments, and a new smartphone app to be used instead of pagers for junior doctors and nurses. Noting that unlocking technology transformation requires upfront investment, he announced £487 million in funding for technology projects.
It is hoped that telemedicine will also help to democratise healthcare by ending the “postcode lottery” announced in a report by the Care Quality Commission.
With hospital waiting times expected to be even longer this upcoming winter, technology companies such as Polycom, are calling for the NHS to seriously consider the use of technological innovations, to increase efficiency and give NHS staff time to attend the patients that need urgent medical attention.