Much has been written about digital healthcare and it often polarises opinion. The two perspectives below highlight opposing views of an increasingly connected healthcare system.
Perspective 1: Digital healthcare is a bad idea and has no place in the NHS
The last few years have been an onslaught of news and information about digital in healthcare. From online booking, to seeing your medical record, e-prescriptions and online consultations, and sharing data. It’s too much. Digital has its place in home and personal entertainment. Your iPhone is good for phonecalls and text messages, music and games. You can even log your exercise. But it is not a medical device.
How can we use the internet to transform the way care is given? Only really new ideas will make a difference to the overburdened health and care system, which is creaking under the seams of an ageing population and increasing ability to treat and remedy any condition.
Private GP services available on demand, health monitors worn around your wrist and online peer support for doctors and patients have all shown the role technology has to play.
In my previous position I’ve been working with teams trying to deliver healthcare in new ways – ways that are more efficient, more patient-centred and more integrated. I work in work in partnership with health and social care providers to re-design services, refine care pathways and improve business processes. We create the digital products that enable this happen. The goal is to deliver integrated digital healthcare and help turn patients from passive to active participants in their care. That’s the big idea anyway.
Over the last two I’ve been designing a suites of digital tools and apps with Digital Life Sciences through Innovate UK’s dallas project in collaboration with health professionals, that enable us as patients to join the conversation about our health and wellbeing.
You might not have noticed but something exciting has been happening in Birmingham: you can now speak to a GP when you want to, not when you’re told to!
Modality Partnership is a single GP organisation that operates across 13 different locations in Sandwell and Birmingham. One of the first GP “super practices”, Modality has the advantage of having small practices working closely in local communities with the medical and technological opportunities that come from being part of a bigger organisation. Modality employs almost 250 staff and serves around 60,000 people.
As Director of Product Design for Digital Life Sciences I worked with Modality to re engineer the organisation and to change the way that patients access care.
Part of our project was to create a centralised and properly staffed call centre for patient appointment booking. Along side this we now give users of the services different ways to reach their GP, to use the jargon, we’ve designed and delivered a multi-channel access model for patients. It’s been a success and I will tell you more later.
In 2012 the NHS Grampian Health Innovations team ran some workshops with Glasgow School of Art to test how much patients understood about their diagnosis. The results were quite revealing – many newly diagnosed patients were unsure of their diagnosis and it’s implications.
I know that from my experience with my mum, a razor sharp 85 year old, she seems to drift off at the doctors and is either not listening – in her case probably not hearing or distracted by the fact that she’s hearing bad news. Living 400 miles away, it makes it hard for me to help when I can’t get any extra information from her GP practice.
NHS Grampian came to me while I was working at Digital Life Science with this challenge – how do we help patients understand diagnoses and help them to start to make appropriate changes to their lifestyle without the delay of waiting until their next appointment.
The idea was to use video and it reminded me of a project we’d worked on in 2008 – a BBC Food show called Get Cooking with Madhur Jaffrey, Sophie Grigson and Mich Tonks.