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Digital technology has the potential to significantly change the healthcare industry in the next few years. What could this mean for patients?
We are becoming much more proactive when it comes to our health and that’s in part down to both the access to health-related information and advancements in technology. The smartphones in our pockets are now able to assist us in many aspects of our lives. We use apps to manage our finances, our social interactions, our shopping, travel and complementary wearable devices like the Fitbit and smartwatches,which make staying fit and keeping healthy easier than ever.
One industry that seems to be lagging behind in this digital transformation is healthcare. Big tech companies such as Google, Apple, IBM, Amazon are already trying to bridge this gap by integrating healthcare abilities into their products. It’s inevitable that these advancements will eventually catch up with the healthcare industry, so here are a few changes we could see in the coming years.
Online personal medical records
At the moment, most people’s medical records are held at their GP Practice, and you can ask to see them during a consultation. The Department of Health has plans in place to enable everyone to access their own medical records online by 20181. It is part of a mission to modernise and streamline the industry, but also to improve the coordination of care, especially for those with complex conditions.
In a recent BMI Healthcare poll asked people’s opinions about having their medical records online:
- 69% of people believed that it was a good step forward, given that other personal data, like bank statements, are already available online.
- 31% either didn’t want their records online, or were unsure about how securely the records were held3.
It’s understandable that people are uneasy about this change, but there are many benefits to online records. This progression is designed to help people take more insight into their health and work alongside a doctor or healthcare professional in making important decisions.
There are currently over 165,000 healthcare apps to download from the Apple Store, and the NHS is working on a library of recommended apps for the public2. These apps are designed to give people more control over their health, from prevention to managing existing conditions.
In a recent BMI Healthcare poll asked respondents how likely they were to use Apps in the near future:
- 46% of respondents say they were very likely to use them in the next 12 months
- 54% admitted they’d feel under confident in using them, but in time and with plenty of practise, apps could make it much easier for people to manage their health3.
Seeing a doctor
One of the most dividing questions around healthcare is whether we should be able to see a doctor remotely, using digital programs. Many believe that seeing a doctor in person is essential to getting the correct diagnosis.
49% of the respondents to a recent BMI Healthcare poll think that in five years’ time we will be able to see a healthcare professional through a combination of face-to-face appointments and digital tools.
How does the future look for BMI Healthcare?
Paul Kirkpatrick, our Chief Digital Officer, is a strong believer in technology’s role to a digitally-enabled hospital:
“Using intelligent technology in the form of data, wearable devices, smart infrastructure and mobile will no doubt help to provide a safer more efficient health system and ultimately better care for patients.That’s why we’re investing so heavily in robust electronic patient data, core infrastructure, bandwidth and technical capability to support new advances in modern healthcare – moving towards the concept of a digitally-enabled hospital.
Focusing on technology to improve preventative care and reduce re-admissions will improve society’s wellbeing, while also saving the public health service money. Outside of the physical hospital walls, connected devices or other medical equipment used by consumers and pulled together by data and infrastructure could aid in this mission.
In the future, I see patients speaking to their Consultants via a video app from their tablet or smart phone, having their initial assessments carried out remotely, being able to track all their patient records from their phone, and having their health data collated through wearable technology and analysed in real time.
The future of digital healthcare is exciting and our aim is to be at the forefront of the technological innovations, helping to improve the experience of our consultants and patients.”
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3BMI Healthcare Poll (Results as of Jan 2017)