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We’re plugging the Digital Technology revolution but are we willing to switch the switch and at what cost?

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Last year over 120 professionals from health and social care providers to life sciences and technology companies, attended a health debate in Cambridge.

The debate revealed that the attendees really wanted an all round push for digital technology to be fully injected into the NHS. This digital injection would amplify the need for self-lead care, helping to transform patient care and improve the efficiency, effectiveness and cost of care delivery.

Report Released:

‘Connected health: how digital technology is transforming health and social care’

The debate report exposed the need for digital technology to be integrated into the Healthcare system.

 

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How are we using Digital Technology to inform our self-lead health decisions?….

 

Now there’s no surprise that a grand three-quarters of the population in the UK now click online for more information about their bodies.

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With over 70% of the UK owning a smartphone, having internet access to over 100,000 health apps is simple and quick.

“But shockingly less than 500 of these so called healthcare apps are validated by NHS Choices or the European Health Apps Directory. “

These online self help apps, grant open access to health information at home or on the go, actively reinforcing the need for patient empowerment within the NHS. The self help management system is a positive step forward and has proven to shorten the length of stay in hospital.

 

 

 

So let’s look forward and understand what barriers need to be broken down to enable the connected health infrastructure to work effectively…

 

 

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Embracing the digital age

There is a strong historical resistance of embracing new digital technology and frameworks within the NHS. The Paperless movement can be daunting and a well versed system isn’t easy to knock. The first step to a digital revolution is an open mind that’s receptive to changing for the better.

 

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Joining the Dots

Creating a clear regulatory system for a digital framework that has fluidity and interconnectivity throughout the NHS is a key factor. The flow of information and mobile accessibility to patient data is perfect within one hospital but this connectivity changes within each NHS Foundation. Perhaps a global solution could complete a much needed bigger digital picture.

 

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Patient Data Protection

With open accessibility to patient medical records for both healthcare clinicians and the patients there is always a growing concern about the limitation of this accessibility. Data protection and patient safeguarding are reliant on the quality and liability issues handled quickly and succinctly within the NHS data protection framework.   

 

 

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The Guinea Pigs of the Digital Age  

With a distinct lack of digital technology transformations within the NHS, the trust in this new age, is stunted. The guinea pigs of the digital age are few and far between meaning, tried and tested digital frameworks are not encouraging other NHS foundations to become funding models. This sort of model evidence will aid other hospitals to encompass the positive elements that could help to cultivate this digital movement.

 

 

 

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How do we break down these digital technology barriers?…

There is however a growing number of early digital technology based adopters which show how the NHS can overcome these barriers. These adopters convey the real benefits of connecting patients and providers together for one simple solution. Here’s what the debating panel had to say…  

 

 

  • Will a market conducive to tech innovations sweep away all of the competition,   will nothing much happen or is there a third way?

The majority of the panel highlighted the awareness of the need for more technology within all public services. This awareness will filter through and become a priority within the NHS as the public starts to demand a tech-savvy healthcare. As we are not at this critical tipping point of the complete takeover of the digital age, it is hard to tell how many varying ways there may be for managing and delivering care.

 

  • Will technology deployments require a formal evaluation, like a randomised controlled trial (RCT) and which do not?

There was an overall agreement that having evidence that a technology works before implementation is critical to not only the clinicians who will be using the equipment but also the public. The real merits of the digital change needs to be actively publicised and marketed to the public so their hospital choice is driven by the technology advancements.

Although RCT’S take a long time the ideal method for evaluating the success of a new system would be to collect evidence through real-time evaluation of the benefits. The real-time method studies the new system from initial roll out to framework implementation helping the users to see if there is a real global roll-out potential.

 

  • How does the technology apply to social care and what is its role in the integration of care and supporting people to live meaningful lives in the community and residential settings?

With the recent political climate change and renewed policy initiatives the panel suggested that technology is not only a key element to both integration and the increasing demand within the NHS, fewer staff and cost pressures at every point of care.

Not only does technology help the clinicians within the hospital environment, it also steps up to the mark during the after care. safeguarding policies. The panel discussed that engaging with digital technology at home or in assisted living can considerably improve the risk factors and unnecessary hospital admissions.

 

  • How does the economics of patient power work?

The real challenge is highlighting the evidential economic benefits of having a complete digital transformation within a hospital environment. This evidence is gradually growing but the implementation of a new system takes time. The top 5%-7% of the acute care pyramid structure shows almost immediate results, whereas the further you go down this structure there is a longer incubation period before you see the real economic benefits take effect.

In regards to the economic benefits, there needs to be a long-term strategic view.

 

“It’s all well and good looking at a standard 2 year outcome but in reality for a digital shift to really show, we should be looking at a 5 year term. “

 

This 5 year period will allow internal healthcare changes to grow and give the opportunity for the old and new workforce within the foundation to embrace new skills and to take advantage of the endless possibilities that digital technology has to offer practically and economically.

 

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