Guest Post from Beth Hawthorne
The recent announcement by UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, of extra funding and greater use of digital services for the National Health Service has prompted headlines such as “Millions of patients to see doctor by Skype . . .” (e.g. thetimes.co.uk). In reality these headlines are simply using the well known name to grab attention, and the digital services planned go way beyond a simple video call.
The MediChain Hypatia app is a good example. This not only allows patients to see GPs or specialists by video, but also incorporates the patient’s digital records and up to date clinical decision support. This will allow the doctor to see and talk with the patient in their own environment and make properly informed decisions on the the patient’s needs.
MediChain’s telemedicine expert, Dr Saqib Mukhtar, has found that approximately 60% of GP consultations don’t require a physical examination and are suitable for this sort of service. And he says that as well as helping patients and reducing NHS costs, Hypatia will also help with recruitment and retention of doctors, allowing them to work more flexibly and with job satisfaction.
Another recent press article (dailymail.co.uk) states that ‘health chiefs believe that up to a third of the 90 million outpatient consultations each year in the UK do not require a hospital visit’. In these cases, instead of attending an appointment and finding that the specialist has only minimal information from the GP’s referral letter, the specialist will have the patient’s records available via Hypatia, and will be better placed to give the patient suitable advice. Again seeing the patient in their own environment can be a useful factor. In addition the specialist will be able to update the patient’s records directly, rather than the current inefficient procedure of writing a letter to the GP which then has to be transferred into the patient’s records.
Better use of data for research and oversight is another area covered in the NHS ten year plan. With patient consent the data from their records, including treatments and outcomes in their particular circumstances, can be used in the MediChain Athena system for research into new and improved treatments, and for spreading best practice.
Athena will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze data in order to identify procedures that give the best outcomes, and feed advice to doctors worldwide, and to find patterns that lead to the development of new treatments and cures.
MediChain is already working with key partners to bring its solutions into the NHS as part of the ten year plan just announced.