Mobile technology: a cure for health service pain points?
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt hit the headlines earlier this month by announcing that the NHS is committing £4.2 billion to going paperless with a digital health strategy. All too often the public sector is painted as technology laggards, so it’s great to see such an ambitious plan from the most vital public service.
Focus on value
I stumbled over a report from MedTech Europe and BCG discussing the tender process across the health organisations in Europe. That report highlighted a simple formula where Value is the health outcome that matters divided by the total cost of delivering those outcomes. Total cost is not just the price.
The example of wound care products caught my eye. Bandages are often chosen based on price only, but quality of those products can be poor. A more expensive bandage would end up as better value for money, because less changes would be needed, meaning less nursing care, and faster healing wounds.
Change the process- Bringing it back home
Jeremy Hunt talked about making the NHS a world leader in new technologies that would drive better patient outcomes and a revolution in healthcare at home. Yet in the articles covering this story budgets are assigned to traditional IT projects, not one example of change in a care process. The danger NHS faces is that the paper trail and bureaucracy will remain even when the paper is gone, making process changes even harder.
There are 25,000 medical device companies in Europe alone. With the ICT industries trying to find the next big play in Internet of Things, the NHS has an opportunity to review the care process and make it even more patient centric. They could build a digital model taking total health outcome into account and lifecycle cost.
By implementing a digital health strategy, healthcare organisation set the patients need first and increase efficiency
Just about every organisation is somewhere on the journey to going digital. But it’s hard to think of a better sector where the transformation could impact so positively on people’s lives. It’s a service we all use and are frequently frustrated by. Imagine a world where our hospitals put the customer/patient experience at the forefront of what they do and use patient-centric solutions to radically improve the quality of care.
There’s widespread acceptance that the best way forward for a beleaguered service is to invest in prevention and eHealth, finding ways to treat people where they need it when they need it rather than add to the burden of hospitals where resources are already stretched to breaking point. To succeed in this, the actual care plan need to be revised based on MedTechs report, processes defined and then implemented. Only then will NHS become a world leader in healthcare which is their core function, not an organisation leading the way of new technology investments.
Anyone working in the tech sector would be well aware that solutions are readily available to advance such a strategy. The outcomes would be a more personalised experience for the patient – and one that’s a lot less intimidating because they would be treated in their homes rather than a hospital.
Increasing productivity, controlling costs and security
It would also be a game changer for healthcare professionals. With the right mobile solutions they would enjoy a new autonomy and be allowed to get on with their jobs without constantly returning to their office after each visit. This would save time and money – classic benefits of mobilising a workforce. (Have a look at Liz Edwards previous blog about on call nurses)
Of course there’s a caveat. Public sector agencies and organisations have not got the best track record for technology deployments, and all too often find themselves in the headlines for failed IT projects and sky-rocketing costs.
This is where all Europe’s Medtech companies come in. There is a chance to transform healthcare with connected devices that empower frontline workers and patients. Looking at the IoT solutions that exists today and are in the pipeline of tomorrow, enabling these companies to optimise the health outcome will be the fastest way to drive down cost for NHS as a whole and deliver best in class care at scale.
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