I would like to share some of my reflections from 2023 on the development of telehealth and remote monitoring, which have shaped the health and social care technology sectors in this challenging but rewarding year.
How Covid Helped Change Health and Social Care
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of telehealth and remote monitoring solutions, as more people looked to access services from the comfort and safety of their homes. Organisations sought innovation to assist in reducing admissions to hospital; Telehealth and remote monitoring have proven to be effective, convenient, and a cost-efficient way to deliver care, especially for chronic long-term conditions, mental health, and elderly care. They do this by reducing the burden on the health and social care systems, helping to reduce waiting times, supporting virtual wards, and providing care closer to or within the home.
Providing patients with an oxygen saturation and blood pressure monitor assisted in self-management, and helped to prevent ill health escalation. This enabled them to stay at home, in comfort, free from the risk of hospital acquired infections and therefore freeing up precious beds in acute hospitals for patient that needed full medical support. A far more cost efficient and improved citizen experience all round.
The NHS and social care sector in the UK have been investing in these solutions, aiming to scale up capacity and improve patient outcomes. According to NHS England, over 487,000 people have been supported at home with digital home care and remote monitoring technologies between November 2020 and January 2023, with a further 500,000 people that could be better supported by March 2023.
The many applications of AI in Healthcare
A theme I hear when visiting all customers is the development and increasing use of Artificial intelligence and of big data. These have become indispensable tools for health and social care management, as they support enhanced diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and management of diseases and conditions. This is not to take away the human element of health and social care, but to facilitate and enhance care using data.
Having these tools at your fingertips can improve the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of care, as well as reduce errors, costs, and waste. With the variety of ways to improve health via image analysis, natural language processing, predictive analytics, clinical decision support, personalised medicine, and population health management, the aim is to be proactive and to support better population health. This is key as the workforce is increasingly in demand and stretched, and we look to seek ways to afford clinicians and care staff increased quality face-to-face time with our patients and service users.
Managing our own health with Digital Therapeutics
Digital therapeutics and wellness apps are on the rise. I use them, do you? They can be very helpful, especially in January with all our new year resolutions, when many of us strive to manage our health better. They are easy to follow, and you can see performance and tracking, gain rewards acquire and feedback.
Software-based interventions aim to prevent, manage, or treat various health and wellness issues, complement traditional therapies, such as medication prompting, mindfulness, or physical therapy and activity, and weight management. They are often prescribed by clinicians to support self- management. As a qualified Occupational Therapist, I know the value of how they can empower users to take more control over their own health and well-being.
How wearable devices give GPs back time
As wearable devices become more accessible, the rise in this software-based healthcare interventions is enormous, and it is vital for us to ensure these applications are governed and accredited.
The fantastic NHS app, developed during Covid, currently has 33.6 million registrants according to NHS England. Interestingly, each prescription ordered electronically saves GP practices three minutes of time and gives a patient eighteen minutes back. This is much more convenient than traditional prescription ordering and frees up frontline staff for face-to-face duties.
Interestingly statistics from NHS England also show that pensioners are the most active users with two-thirds (62%) of registered users aged over sixty-six have accessed the app within the past three months, including more than 256,400 in their eighties and almost 17,100 aged ninety and over. With my 86-year-old mother-in-law and 83-year-old mum being part of these statistics, it is a testament to proving the ease of accessibility and functionality.
These are a just a couple of the trends that have marked the year 2023 for health and social care technology. I believe that these trends will continue to evolve and shape the future of health and social care in the coming years.
I look forward to seeing more innovations and collaborations in this exciting field, and supporting CDW’s customers in developing new pathways of care with the use of these technological solutions.
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