It’s well documented that in terms of patient outcomes and experience, the NHS and local authorities must become more integrated around delivery of health and social care with GPs as the first port of call.
Yet while the benefits and opportunities of more joined-up services may be clear, some major cultural shifts and a refocusing of attention are needed in key areas. Long-term conditions, for example, account for around 50% of all GP appointments. Freeing up even 10% of that time by joining up and targeting patient services more effectively would make a huge difference. Apart from severe cases, many people with problems such as diabetes or a heart condition may wish to be provided with an alternative other than to attend their GP surgery. Proactive information and reminders can potentially keep all of us healthier – and may even prevent people with long-term or short-term conditions from regularly having to go to the GP or to A&E.
The NHS takes on thousands of new junior doctors every year who tend to be very open to the idea of informing the patient experience via digital tools. There is an evolving culture in the NHS, with clinicians and others entering the workplace as digital natives for whom technology is not a cost-saver or a bolt-on, but an essential and integral fact of everyday life.
Many patients will be open to using technology apps, texts, Skype, email and other messaging tools to manage their own care because that’s what we do in just about every other area of our lives. Giving GPs these same tools will free up their time at surgeries, refocusing that time to spend face to face with, say, the 20% most urgent cases and looking after the other 80% more proactively by making smarter use of digital tools.
As today’s healthcare services face increasing challenges as a result of multiple factors, digital technologies clearly have an important role to play – especially as professionals and patients are now more willing to use a mix of channels.
Atos’ recently launched Digital Vision for Health explores how digital enablers can help clinicians and citizens to make the step change that’s needed in the way the UK looks after health and wellbeing. It covers areas such as Precision Medicine, Genomics, Patient Empowerment, Digital Hospitals, Data Ethics and Machine Learning.
Pooven Maduramuthu, VP Sales & Health, Atos UK&I