Comment

24.03.17

Connectivity and behaviour key to unlocking wireless adoption

Source: NHE Mar/Apr 17

Julia Manning, founding director of 2020health, analyses the opportunities and challenges facing mobile & wireless tech development and adoption in the NHS.

How many articles have you read over the past year, decade or even more that painted a picture of the seamless delivery and experience of data-driven, IT-enabled healthcare? Everything the physician and patient needs is immediately available and comprehensively informed with the happy ending of ‘disease defeated’ or ‘prevention performed’. It is an easy story to write – ‘we have the technology’ – as I was reliably informed a while ago while watching the Six Million Dollar Man as a child. 

You only have to see the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ (which should have won the best picture and best female actress awards at the Oscars) to see how far IT has come in power, size and automation. Yet whilst processing speeds have reached warp velocity, and miniaturisation has turned smartphones into a hand-held Tardis, the complexities of and between health IT systems resembles known but unmapped galaxies. 

Connectivity and behaviour 

There are only two challenges worth talking about that face mobile and wireless technology adoption in the NHS: connectivity and behaviour. All else, the history of NHS IT, lack of understanding, plurality of systems, lack of pathways, evidence base, market, tariffs, big data, apps and wearables are important, but if the technology isn’t connected, and if we haven’t thought through the relevant behaviour changes, the vision for what technology could achieve will remain just that – a vision, not a reality. 

There are many experts who have written about the system connectivity issues within the NHS, but my interest is in how the public connects to the NHS, and how NHS professionals connect with the public. Unless professionals are personally convinced that health record access is helpful to the patient, that personally generated health data has validity and utility, and that personal digital health technologies have a role to play in prevention, detection and treatment, then they won’t be interested in facilitating connections. 

In the past three years, through our Health Tech and You Awards programme in partnership with Axa PPP and the Design Museum, I have seen over 500 consumer-friendly health technologies. Everything from smartphone ECGs, to headphones for insomnia, to personal allergy testing kits and apps to intervene with self-harm, paranoia and anxiety. Life changing, life-enhancing, life-saving innovations. Yet unless the technology syncs with Apple’s Health app (and is then synced with an EMIS GP record), or with an enabling platform such as that provided by Patients Know Best, the information remains disconnected and, for the majority of professionals, irrelevant. 

ThinkstockPhotos-481229372

It doesn’t have to be this way. A recent study in Finland of 16 nurses undergoing depression nurse specialist education used a therapy app for five weeks for themselves. Not only did the nurses find the app suitable as a self-management tool, they identified three models of using it in clinical practice. They were eager to take it into use with various client groups and had insight on the effort needed in familiarising oneself with the content, and pointed out specific client groups for whom the benefits of the app should be carefully weighed against the potential risks.

Connectivity and behaviour overlap, of course. Whilst information remains fragmented, it is harder to create meaning from it, and from that to promote, motivate and capture behaviour change – of professionals or the public. But there is another issue: trust. The explosion of health apps and wearables has been very exciting, but even if they were connected, what can we trust? NHS bodies continue to work on this conundrum, which is fascinating if we compare it with medicines. 

There never will be a fail-safe approach, as daily adverse reactions to clinically-approved medicines demonstrate, but we happily prescribe them every day. Most apps have not been through clinical trials, but confidence is beginning to appear. A recent freedom of information request by the University of Sheffield showed that 13 web apps and 35 mobile apps for mental illnesses are already being recommended by professionals in NHS mental health trusts. Apple’s response to ‘trust’ has been to tighten their inclusion criteria for being listed on their health store, and we are beginning to test more effectively the evidence for technology-enabled behaviour change in the real world. 

It is up to all of us to engage with the potential of personal digital health and demand better connectivity; meanwhile, let’s start educating our professionals and children with these fabulous new tools.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

The 2017 AXA PPP Health Tech and You Awards Exhibition opens at the Design Museum on 26 April.

W: www.2020health.org

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

MS Society announces 13 new tech projects worth £1.3m

06/12/2019MS Society announces 13 new tech projects worth £1.3m

Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS Society) announced this week (Dec 3) that they are committed to raising £1.3m to fund 13 new research projec... more >
Nuffield Trust: One in four hospital staff born outside of the UK

06/12/2019Nuffield Trust: One in four hospital staff born outside of the UK

New statistics analysed by Nuffield Health show that people born outside the UK make up for almost a quarter of all staff working in hospitals an... more >
Moulding The Future With 3D Printing

06/12/2019Moulding The Future With 3D Printing

Source : NHE Nov/Dec   Professor Peter Marsden, head of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering, UCLH 3D printing i... more >

681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

Caregivers are looking for meaningful work

03/12/2019Caregivers are looking for meaningful work

Ergotron EMEA discusses how they can support organisations to make caregivers’ work meaningful and promote better wellbeing. Caregivers always focus on sharing their dedication to their patients. However, this choice is unfortunately not always up to expectations: the lack of staff, the demanding workload, the system’s digitalization lead to less time spent at the patients’ bedsides. In addition, these constraints... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

interviews

Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual conference, Matt Hancock highlighted what he believes to be the three... more >
NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us th... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

health service focus

Moulding The Future With 3D Printing

06/12/2019Moulding The Future With 3D Printing

Source : NHE Nov/Dec   Profess... more >
Six Ways Technology Is Benefiting The Older Generation

05/12/2019Six Ways Technology Is Benefiting The Older Generation

Source: NHE Nov/Dec   Accordin... more >