When you think of mobile healthcare, do you think something along the lines of FitBit, App or Smart Watch? People spend 80% of their time on three apps alone – Fortune.com. That is to say that despite pages upon pages of potentially useful applications on your phone you hardly use any of them, EVER!
As a UK population, on average we visit the hospital just about once per year – NHS England statistics. Of course, there are times when we go more or times when we go less, people that frequent often and people that frequent hardly ever.
Bearing in mind the above two stats and the fact the we have an increasingly dated NHS, why in the case of digital healthcare do we look at an app or individual siloed solutions as the answer? For a patient that visits their hospital oh, but once a year, the extra steps involved in downloading an app, finding it in the onslaught of other apps on your phone, opening it, logging in etc. All for one day a year? No thanks.
“Many companies find themselves pressured into an mHealth strategy because the competition is doing it, and the easier way to move forward is by developing an app. One must take a step back and ask the question: Why am I doing this in the first place?” – Sunny Ahn, Tech Crunch
Short term fixes V long term solutions
Yes, transformational change within the NHS needs to happen, with particular regard to technological innovation. But let’s tread carefully and not make this another ‘tick the box’ exercise to fulfill your immediate needs – But rather take the right steps to implement lasting change that can grow and adapt just as our world does.
See here’s the problem; We’re busy people, we operate in a modern world, solutions must add value to our life and the NHS needs to follow suit. Let’s attack this as follows;
One word, pressure. Organisations and particularly the NHS put staff on the ground under a lot of pressure to achieve measurable results in short periods of time. This can often result in putting band aids on war wounds and this is where we can fall in to the trap of a ‘tick box’ solution. We can often chose surface based solutions as opposed to picking the solution that best suits both your short term and long term needs.
‘To be sustainable we must moderate demand by improving prevention, achieve substantial efficiency gains and develop new ways of delivering services, for example, by making better use of information, technology, our estates and the skills of our workforce’ – NHS England business plan
The above quote shows the NHS acknowledges short term focus may have been an issue in the past and it’s their way of showing effort toward changing this. So, we’ve identified the cause however, I’m sure we all know and feel the cause! But what are our steps toward rectifying this?
Let’s start with a simple question – What is my day to day work for or what is its purpose? Without skipping a beat I’m sure you said something along the lines of ‘to improve the lives of patients’. Of course, not all of our work, all of the time is directly feeding in to this goal, however the majority is (or should be!).
Here’s a challenge – Set three reminders on your phone throughout different periods of the day that ask you ‘Is what you’re working on right now working toward improving the lives of patients?’. It will be a fun exercise to truly show you where your focus is.
The point is, often we think our focus is somewhere, when in actual fact, it is somewhere else. This happens easily, even in the case of the NHS. Let’s remind ourselves and refocus on what matters most……. The patient.
In the most general terms the goal is to create as little friction as possible while improving patient care and experience. Mobile healthcare is how this will be achieved.
“Imagine being able to opt-in to a text-based reminder system set up by your doctor’s office to send you a custom text a few minutes before you need to take your medication, or an interactive system that allows you to send information about how many steps you’ve taken, your blood sugar levels or your diet for the day, and receive feedback from medical staff offering encouragement or correction.” – Sunny Ahn, Tech Crunch
By doing this of course, other benefits happen as a bi-product, such as; Improved hospital efficiency, reduction in DNA’s and increased patient satisfaction and this is already being proved in Hospitals around the world.
Mobile has fast become adopted in most walks of life and its high time Healthcare follows suit. We must remember not to implement short term fixes, to keep results focused on the patient and in doing so mobile has the power to rapidly improve the health of everyone around the world.