In the UK, healthcare professionals are calling for “Digital for All, Now”. From cutting costs to improving patient care, “The role of technology is fundamental to the way we respond to this challenge,” says Tim Kelsey of the National Health Service (NHS), which is facing a funding gap of £30 billion.
In an article on nbcnews, Dominic King, a surgeon and behavioural economist at Imperial College London, explains how the NHS is in dire need of a digital overhaul:
“We still rely on desktop computers and pagers. The NHS has more functioning fax machines than the rest of industry in Britain put together. Digital health is the idea that we use mobile phones and tablet devices to make health care delivery more effective and cost effective.”
Tim Kelsey adds: “It is quite genuinely about saving lives.”
MORE ACCURATE DIAGNOSES AND PERSONALISED CARE
One way to improve the flexibility and efficiency of healthcare is by enabling patients to track their own diseases using digital devices (the concept of the Quantified Self).
“They’re offering apps which allow people to manage their diabetes without ever having to go to a hospital unless things go dramatically wrong,” says King.
Health-tracking apps can be used to monitor blood sugar levels, heart rates and cholesterol and thus ensure more accurate diagnoses, more personalised care and lower costs. It does, of course, all hinge on having the right equipment to monitor this data remotely.
Another major concern is security and reliability of data: as Bleddyn Rees, head of health care at law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham, points out:
“One of the reasons that health care systems ignore all bring-your-own devices is because they cannot be certain about the quality control.”
Making healthcare devices more accurate is therefore essential in order to build people’s trust in digital technologies so that they can fulfil their potential and bring hospitals well and truly into the digital age.