Proverb: Prevention is better than cure
We’ve all heard this before but we here at DrDoctor have uncovered some interesting statistics that will make you think twice about how the healthcare system in the UK works. It will come as no surprise that we need to realign our focus to a more preventative model however, digital healthcare can allow us to do just that. Digital Healthcare has recently become a colossal industry, so allow me to show you where to begin.
We have a problem
Demand for healthcare is growing. 70% of NHS budget is spent on long term conditions and the multimorbidities that these patients have means they present with a wide range of problems. This has seen A&E numbers forge ahead to their highest ever level and increasingly poor performance on the 4 hour target. The data for January from NHS England showed 88.7% of patients were dealt with in four hours. The target is 95%. Our research shows that those patients who DNA an outpatient appointment are 40% more likely than people who attend to present at A&E in the next 7 days. The increased cost of a patient visiting A&E versus their routine scheduled appointment 7 days prior is vast.
To fix this
We need to change the focus from activity to prevention. A simple way to help this is to make sure patients are getting the most from their routine appointments. If we want patients to attend regular check-ups then they have to feel like they are getting value from it. Basic needs such as a time and location that suits them are a step in the right direction.
Ways in which we can harness the power of digital healthcare go beyond getting the right patient, in the right place, at the right time. We need to make sure that we minimize the boring repetitive administrative tasks – filling in the same medical history form is a waste of time for patient and provider when this can be automated and time stamped with an expiry date.
Car parking problems and delayed appointments routinely top the list of patient frustrations – this can be reduced with Skype appointments and telephone clinics. Frameworks such as Year Of Care aim to maximize the benefit of the patient doctor time by getting test results out before hand and encouraging a patient to think about what they want to change in their lifestyle.
I believe we can integrate clinical, medical, and public health electronic systems to potentially enable providers, payers, and other stakeholders to better coordinate care for the entire community. –David B.Nash
The best examples we have seen of increasing value is to put a patient on to a remote monitoring pathway. Checking key indicators (patient reported surveys, wearables) means you can reduce unnecessary appointments when they are well and allow them to be seen sooner when symptoms do flare up. Combining that with a state of the art scheduling systems means the whole process can be automated.
We must be wary
We need to approach with caution of falling into the trap of digital healthcare solving all our issues at once. It is a slow process up the continuum and it begins with solving the basic issues first, such as patient and clinician communication and patients access to their healthcare. As these are resolved we can begin to utilize digital healthcare for more advanced ideologies.