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Use technology to improve healthcare, report urges

17 June 2014 - 4:20pm

Healthcare commissioners and providers should start exploiting modern forms of technology to talk to patients and seek their feedback.

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Download the Recipes for Sustainable Healthcare report below. Photo: College of Medicine

That is one suggestion contained in a new report from College of Medicine’s sustainable healthcare steering group. It suggests that e-consultations could improve patient satisfaction rates and reduce the likelihood that patients will not turn up for appointments.

The growth in the use of smartphones and tablets, and messaging software such as Skype, offers scope for people with long-term conditions to consult healthcare professionals without having to visit a healthcare setting, it says.

The College of Medicine’s Recipes for Sustainable Healthcare report was published on 17 June. Phil Gray, the CSP’s former chief executive, was a member of the group before he retired earlier this year.

Against a background of static funding for the NHS in England, and a potential shortfall of up to £54 billion by 2021, the report says nearly 15 million people in England have a long-term condition and this number is set to rise.

The group was set up to explore how the quality of healthcare for people with long-term conditions could be improved in the context of a system that is under sustained pressure.

In addition to harnessing technology, the report has two other themes: embedding a patient-centred approach, which it says will require a change in the way clinicians are trained; and equipping patients to set their own goals and manage their conditions.

It recommends that:

  • all patients with a long-term condition should have a named healthcare professional to support the coordination of their care
  • commissioners and providers should explore the potential for cloud computing to enable better information-sharing and decision-making in long-term and acute conditions
  • the Department of Health should establish a ‘shared healthcare sustainability resource’ for local commissioners, bringing together evidence-based initiatives

Karen Middleton, the CSP’s chief executive, said: ‘Optimising sustainability across the NHS demands bold action now.

‘This is essential to ensure the services delivered by physiotherapists and other health service innovators are put in place to support people with long-term conditions, and help them to maintain their independence and enjoy longer, more fulfilling lives.’

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