Are we embracing the benefits of new health technology?
The NHS will have its 70th birthday this year, so is it time to celebrate or question its future? The NHS continues to play a central role in managing the nation’s health and there is no doubting the continued dedication of its staff, which is certainly worthy of a celebration. However, a gap is emerging between the resources available to the NHS and the ever-increasing demands from an ageing and expanding population.
We live in a digital age, so patients expect immediate access to healthcare and are looking for assistance in understanding and managing their own health. As the entry point to the NHS, it is not surprising that GP surgeries are most exposed and are close to crisis point. A multi-faceted and non-political long-term plan is required to bridge the gap, but digital health is an effective early opportunity to support the current system and reduce the burden on otherwise scarce resources.
The USA has embraced this opportunity and earlier this year they signed a new spending bill into law that will support the expansion of digital health solutions. So far, the NHS is noticeably lagging behind despite some excellent work being done in the UK digital healthcare market.
Insurance companies, employers, and other corporate entities have recognised the potential role of providing digital healthcare to their members or staff to overcome inaccessibility of certain NHS services. For example, we have formed partnerships with VitalityHealth, LV= and British Friendly Society where we have customised our digital healthcare solution to support their proposition. However, it is important that this is not confused with those providers that are focusing firmly on the consumer with free to download apps and a simple pay per appointment with a doctor. Our view is that their services are limited, and their focus is very much on the technology and less so on the quality of advice being given.
Our approach is very different; we have developed a “Clinic in a Pocket” app and platform which acts as a framework to allow us to build bespoke and white-labeled mobile healthcare solutions for customers which can even connect with existing healthcare networks. Wellness and healthcare are its priority, based on good medical practice, whilst the role of technology is to provide easy access to our services via an intuitive mobile app. This is unique in the market as the general trend is to build the technology first and then add the doctors and healthcare afterward.
Our solutions are highly flexible and truly bespoke enabling organisations to leverage just one or some of the services available such as virtual and face-to-face GP consultations, 2nd opinion services, health MOTs, prescription services, appointment booking services, specialist referrals, physiotherapy sessions, counseling and dietician appointments. These can all be arranged 24/7 online and delivered via bespoke video app technology.
I believe the NHS has yet to fully embrace health technology. Digital health can help to transform healthcare in the UK and reduce the strain on GPs and the NHS.
This is a guest article by Dr Bippon Vinayak, Executive Chairman of Square Health.