Earlier this month, Jeremy Hunt made a speech focusing on digital health and the benefits that this change in health culture could bring to patients and healthcare professionals alike. Media coverage of The Secretary of State for Health’s speech has since largely focused on his backing of the plans for a seven day NHS. However, regardless of political persuasions, his thoughts on intelligence transparency, and in particular patient power, are quite telling.
The lacking in consistency in the ability to share patient’s data remains a barrier in the way of plans to deliver around the clock care, yet over time this will be overcome. What is much more exciting is the impact that empowering patients could have. Enabling patients to gain intelligence around their own health may not be such a bold comparison to the revolution in the written word by the invention by Guttenberg in the 15th century of the movable type printing press. The impact of this in Western Europe is well documented in terms of social and scientific advancement and the internet is having a similar impact globally right now.
Well informed and engaged patients take more control of their condition, and in turn gain a better understanding of cause and effect. Self-management under the remote supervision of their care team can liberate patients, and free them from the shackles of out-patient clinics. This has been repeatedly evidenced in studies which are consistently showing that patients who choose to self-monitor have better outcomes, such as at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.
Hunt predicts that the transition to patient power will dominate healthcare for the next 25 years. I’d go one further and suggest that digital health will totally revolutionise how we as as consumers look at our care. With improved knowledge and understanding that digital health applications offer, we can take a more active role in our treatment than ever before. In 25 years we will look back and ask ourselves why it took so long to adopt digital health.