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The future of healthcare technology in the NHS

Over the course of the last few blogs we’ve talked about the big move towards a paperless and more digitised NHS. We’ve touched upon the benefits healthcare technology would bring to everyone in the healthcare value chain – patients, doctors, nurses, admin staff – as well as the challenges that stand in the way of healthcare technology being adopted on a national scale. All these developments point to an incredibly exciting new phase for the health service, filled with the possibility of better service delivery and innovation. In this blog, I’m going to focus more on what the future of healthcare technology holds and how the physical management of devices is key to its success.

Signs of digital adoption are evident in NHS Trusts all over the country

The previous two blogs about NHS iPads and a paperless NHS cite several examples of hospitals and health centres that are already using mobile devices to help clinicians deliver better healthcare. A significant budget (£1.8 billion) has also been allocated to help create a paper-free NHS – a sign that the government is adamant about digitising our health service. In volume 16.3 of magazine Health Business, an article about mobile health (mHealth) goes on to discuss what’s already being done in the sphere of mHealth and its possible applications in the future. South Tyneside NHS Trust aims to be completely digital by 2020, and have been encouraging staff to adopt a more mobile mindset towards how they work. And further south, North Middlesex NHS Trust wants to become fully digital by 2017 and have already started feeding over a million paper documents into its online portal.

Are mobile phones the most important piece of medical equipment we have?

mHealth is also being pioneered by the NHS-approved Babylon Health – a mobile app which allows subscribers to access medical advice and doctors within minutes via messenger or video chat. What’s more, doctors can send prescriptions to a patient’s nearest pharmacy through the app, according to this BBC News report. Babylon Health’s founder, Ali Parsa, even goes so far as to say that he believes that the mobile phone “might be the most important piece of medical equipment we have.”

Wearable technology can help doctors monitor patients remotely, and helps patients take charge of their health

The next big thing is wearable technology – and it’s already being tested at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust. 25 heart failure patients were given “scales, a blood pressure cuff, and a portable oxygen measurer” that syncs with a smartphone and sends the data to nurses at the hospital. Not only are clinicians able to monitor patients remotely, but patients have a means of witnessing how their lifestyle impacts their health, in real time.

Portable diagnostics and wearable tech is the next step in the NHS’ digital evolution

Diabetes is another condition which can be monitored remotely, saving the NHS millions in the process. 10% of the NHS’ budget is spent on diabetes care, but if patients can input blood sugar levels and other vital signs into a smartphone – rather than having to make regular GP or hospital visits – and have healthcare staff monitor them from afar, the NHS can potentially save a lot of money. Fast forward ten years, and portable diagnostics and implantable smart objects might well be the next phase in the NHS’ digital evolution.

For this digital dream to happen, excellent physical device management needs to be a priority

The days of clipboards hanging at the end of a patient’s bed might soon be a thing of a past – along with trying to decipher doctors’ handwriting! Mobile devices and other forms of digital health innovation can facilitate the ease and speed at which critical patient data can be accessed, as well as narrow the communication gap between patients and clinicians – the benefits that it will bring to delivering healthcare hardly needs explaining. However, the spanner in the works of making digital health possible is poor physical device management. Without adequate device storage, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices risk being stolen, lost and damaged – a financial burden, as well as an obstruction to delivering healthcare.

Every healthcare setting needs its own bespoke device storage strategy

A bespoke physical device management strategy is required for every healthcare location that uses mobile devices in the context of healthcare technology. And now is the perfect time to introduce such a strategy: while digital health is in its relative infancy. In some cases the mobile device storage unit will need to be easily transportable from one end of a hospital to another; in another, it needs to charge and sync its devices; in others it may need to house different types of mobile devices.

LapCabby understands that in healthcare there is never a one-size-fits-all-solution for technology.

To find out more about the key considerations surrounding mobile device management in an NHS context, download our guide:

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