In 1947 the NHS revolutionised healthcare with the innovation of primary care, placing doctors into communities across the UK. Today this concept has been innovated further using technology to take primary care clinicians from their surgeries and placing them into the palm of your hand.
The natural evolution of primary care
In years gone by you would register with your local practice and see the same GP for the rest of your life. It was not uncommon for families to see their same doctor for generations. Today this has become the exception rather than the norm.
As the NHS has evolved over its 72 year lifespan, it has suffered sequential restructuring and adapted, placing huge demands on primary care. As with all businesses, technology has enabled processes and systems to become more efficient. The transition to using electronic health records at the turn of the century was a gamechanger, providing your GP with your comprehensive patient history at the touch of button. Technology is continuing to transform how patients and clinicians interact, as the NHS moves towards making patients’ own data more easily accessible. The ambition is to provide a seamless experience for patients, directing them to the right digital or in-person service at the right time.
Supercharging the art of the consultation
To what extent can a clinic be replicated in a hand held device? Primary care has allowed the fine tuning of the ‘art of the consultation’. One of the first things we learn at medical school is that 80% of your diagnosis will come from taking a great history. So primary care doctors are often less reliant on bedside equipment and more bedside manner. It is no coincidence that the latest research shows that 80% of primary care presentations can be safely managed through one video consultation.
For those occasions when vital signs are useful to measure, it’s surprising how affordably patients can simulate a ‘Hospital at Home’ environment. Clinical grade blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters and even handheld ECG devices can all be delivered overnight and we believe that soon this equipment will become ubiquitous in many homes. While a number of claims do require robust validation, smartphones themselves are proving to offer powerful diagnostic capabilities.
Support better clinical decision making
The way that doctors keep up to date with their knowledge is changing. No longer dusting off journals used to prop up the coffee table. A side of consulting that patients seldom see – is how technology can support doctors in their clinical decision making. Bringing evidence-based guidelines and the latest research to their line of sight during consultations.
Automated, synchronous screening and monitoring
A key aspect of general practice has been the ability to capture data through screening programs and apply evidence based rationale, to decide who does and doesn’t warrant further investigation and treatment. We now see technology playing an important role in synchronously capturing data through remote monitoring devices and wearable sensors. By applying AI-driven decision making, in the same way that clinicians have done for over half a century, this will move screening into the 21st century.
Patients need to trust the technology
Trust is at the core of the patient – clinician experience and always will be. As technology begins to play a bigger role, that level of trust has to be maintained. Recent events have accelerated the adoption of patient facing technologies in healthcare. Video calls are no longer the domain of teenagers and tech companies, they are mainstream. The challenge the care sector now faces is one of trust. The ability of GPs to engender trust has been pivotal to the success and adoption of primary care and that trust must now be earned by the service being provided through the smartphone.
Don’t leave anyone behind
Introducing digital solutions into healthcare can adversely impact those patients who lack digital skills or connectivity. However, latest research shows that patients are more comfortable with using technology to access healthcare than ever before. At MyPulse, we build lovable digital health solutions around our scalable platform with the clear vision to improve efficiency and value for all patients, not just a few.