The NHS looks after a population of over 64 million across the UK, dealing with more than a million patients every 36 hours. The service it offers has to remain first-rate despite severe cost cutting, placing immense pressure on those responsible for maintaining standards.
There is no doubt that technology can play a significant role in helping the NHS improve patient outcomes, while ensuring every penny spent represents value for money.
There are already some plans in place, such as a promise to give all citizens online access to their GP records by the end of 2015. But on a broader scale, technology has the potential to completely change the way health care is offered, and people in the UK are well aware of this.
Research published today from a YouGov poll shows that more than two-thirds of British adults believe that the NHS could and should use technology more in order to increase efficiency, improve patient outcomes and raise the overall patient experience.
It's easy to see why – as citizens have become adept with technology in all other areas of their lives, the same expectation is being levelled at the NHS. High expectations amongst the general public coupled with government targets, such as those set in the NHS England 2020 Vision, mean we are ought to see a revolution in how the NHS uses technology in the next few years.
Technology can solve existing inefficiencies
One of the biggest problems the NHS faces at the moment is efficient sharing of information. In the study, over a quarter of adults stated they, or someone they knew, had experienced a delay in receiving care due to health professionals not sharing information. In the future, the use of intelligent systems will hopefully reduce these issues, ensuring data is available to different users in different locations, and is easily shared.
Other problem areas, such as the managing and booking of appointments, can be greatly improved by introducing new digital channels. Only five per cent of British adults said they received NHS appointment reminders via email, but 36 per cent said they would like to.
With the NHS estimating missed GP appointments cost in excess of £162m each year and with 6.9 million outpatient appointments missed annually, it’s clear that technology can play a role in reducing this number.
Video consultations is another area in which the NHS could make huge leaps with technology. Nearly half of all adults saif they would support the NHS giving patients the option of virtual consultations.
But looking beyond direct care, there's no reason why the NHS can’t also enter the world of health apps to ease its own burden of booking and managing appointments. What’s more, the demand for NHS approved apps is there; when asked, over three quarters of British adults thought the NHS should offer or approve health apps for actions like booking appointments or managing prescriptions.
It’s clear that UK citizens want more digital healthcare services – in the long run this promises to increase efficiencies and improve patient care. At a time when the NHS is under more scrutiny than ever, technology can be a way for it to transform the patient experience while delivering value for taxpayers’ money.