Where once we looked to our local GPs for health advice and diagnosis, the digital age means patients can now access a wealth of healthcare services and information at the touch of a button.
While it is inevitable that certain health needs will always require a face to face consultation with a primary care provider or a rapid response by an accident and emergency department, there are many ways in which digital has helped NHS services reduce pressures on doctors and utilise their budgets and time more effectively.
From electronic prescription requests, online consultations for non-urgent issues and text reminders for patients on long term medication, the NHS has already begun to take advantage of the ease and efficiency of digital communication to enhance the way it is delivering modern healthcare to the population. But this just scratches the surface.
The government has allocated £78 million of funding to the NHS to invest in technology in 2015 as part of a wider digitalisation strategy. Below we take a look at how the NHS has begun to embrace new technologies for the benefit of the public and to achieve its own long-term goals.
London’s digital mental health wellbeing service
One in four people will suffer from a mental health problem in their lives. Over 22% of heath conditions in the UK are mental health issues and yet it has historically received lower levels of funding than physical health.
In London, there are over 900,000 working age adults living with a common mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression. Mental health is estimated to cost the London economy £26 billion per year.
In 2014, the NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was commissioned to develop a new digital platform to provide Londoners with an anonymous online support service to help self-manage mental health issues.
Due to be launched later in 2015, the service is designed to improve the mental wellbeing of the city’s residents by giving them swift access to the services and support available to them via a smart phone or tablet.
The improper use of antibiotics over time has led to them being less effective. Medical professionals are seeking to mitigate this by moving away from prescribing antibiotics for common ailments like colds.
The MicroGuide app was created by doctors, and works as an interactive guide to microbiology with a dosage calculator. The app, alongside an integrated awareness raising campaign targeting GPs, caused high-risk antibiotics prescribing to decrease from 40% to 28% in Southampton.