Friday 26 June 2015
Reading Time: 2 minutes
It has been predicted that by the year 2020 there will be a significant budget deficit of £22bn within the NHS. This suggests action must be taken in order to allow our national health service to remain a viable organisation. With an ageing population, the recovery period of recession, and increased patient demands all having an effect, the NHS is becoming ever stretched and scrutinised.
One solution to this major challenge could be the enhanced use of technology and data within the NHS. Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s national director for patients and information, has recently stated that better use of technology and data could save the NHS as much as a third of the £22bn budget deficit. So what changes have been or are set to be made that could lead to significant cost advantages?
A recent major development has been the success of GP surgeries offering online appointment bookings and electronic prescriptions. Kelsey highlighted that 97% of GP patients have access to this service and that the ability for patients to re-book online will go a long way in tackling the problem of missed appointments – which costs the NHS an estimated figure of £160m per year.
Further developments in technology include the installation of Wi-Fi throughout NHS sites to allow health professionals to monitor patients using wearable devices. It has been suggested that by using wearable devices doctors and managers will be able to track patients on their journey through the hospital; ensuring patients arrive in the right locations and resulting in a much more accurate picture of patient flow.
As previously mentioned, patients are becoming increasingly demanding and placing more emphasis on the care they receive. One change that’s aiming to enhance patient satisfaction is to provide online access to full health records for all patients when traditionally only summary care records have been available. It has been reported that only 0.4% of GP patients who have access have utilised the service but it is hoped this number will increase as the service becomes better publicised.
Earlier this month the Carter Interim Report of the NHS was published, and recommendations for cost savings included improved staff organisation, a better approach to procurement and more investment in digital platforms.
Due to the end of the National Program for IT in the NHS there is set to be a period of change when it comes to the IT systems in place. This means there is great opportunity for health organisations to tap into the pool of innovative and cost effective digital technology out there today.
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