Paul Hide from the Digital Device and Consumer Tech Programme at techUK discusses the UK tech firms developing innovative apps and wearables that can help solve the capacity and preventative issues in the winter crisis
A big theme throughout this week is the importance of prevention. The winter crisis is, somewhat crudely, in imbalance of supply and demand and if you can reduce demand this will go a long way to solving the crisis. This is where wearables and apps we all have access to can help. Roughly 8 million people have some form of wearable technology in the UK and with around 45 million smartphones in use, there is an incredible opportunity. The UK has a great suite of companies developing these apps and technologies, many of which were at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January that can deliver real health outcomes.
CES is the world’s biggest tech trade show and it takes over Las Vegas for a week every year. The trend in recent years has been how non-tech sectors are increasingly positioning themselves as ‘tech’ and healthcare is one such sector. techUK, with support from the Department of International Trade, took a delegation out to CES and helped them gain millions in business and some major growth opportunities.
All the major tech firms have developed or are developing healthcare offerings, but below we outline some exciting British companies making great wearable and smartphone-based products that can keep people out of hospital and alleviate pressure during times of increased pressure on the NHS.
Doppel make a wrist-worn device which uses psychological and neuroscientific methods to reduce stress. The device makes a silent vibration which feels like a calm heartbeat and seeks to create a natural, psychological effect to make people calmer and less stressed. Acute stress is a growing mental health issue and keeping people calm can help reduce anxiety or stress related GP visits or admissions.
DnaNudge is a device, wristband and app that can take DNA samples, understand your DNA and how you metabolise certain foods. The app is linked to a database of manufactured foods and genetic info and informs you of your bodies’ ability to digest and metabolise food. This may not solve the winter crisis but shows how affordable biotechnology and devices work can be utilised to solve long term challenges preventing crises down the line.
Echo is an NHS approved app that allows repeat prescriptions to be delivered to your door, meaning there is no requirement to visit the GP, which as above, frees up capacity during busy winter periods. All users need to do is show where they are registered, what they need (either through scanning existing barcodes or searching) and it will be posted out. The app also has built in reminders aiding medication compliance.
Vida is an online app and service that links carers with specialized care professionals. So much of the winter crisis could be solved with improved social care outcomes and keeping people in their homes and what the app does is link specialised carers with patient’s needs (for example disabilities care patients have different requirements from dementia care. Currently the app only works in the south of England, but they plan on extending this.
PushDoctor is an app that connects patients to fully qualified UK registered GPs and allows them to receive consultations, prescriptions and referrals. Patients can be seen in minutes and means many routine appointments can be done in no time at all and relieve pressure at traditional GP centres. It isn’t free (there is a choice of a one-off fee or subscription) so may seem to contradict the universal access principles of the NHS, but for some it’s a good option and could free up GP capacity in clinics for those who need it.
These are only some of the British made apps and devices that can help the NHS at crunch points and we’re seeing huge uptake in health monitoring from the existing major tech firms. The challenge is how to drive adoption of these technologies and make health-tech more accessible and the norm.
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