latest health care news

09.05.17

GPs held back by lack of patient confidence in technology

Despite the fact that almost two-thirds of the British public want to take greater control of their own health, less than half have taken any action to do in the last year – and almost a quarter (23%) are not confident that they can help prevent or reduce health-associated problems.

The stark findings, revealed in a report by Nesta, underlined a significant missed opportunity to take charge of healthcare as the country moves towards community-based population health.

For example, just a quarter of the surveyed members of the public said they currently use technology such as health apps, fitness trackers and other wearables to manage their own health.

In contrast, a whopping 64% of GPs surveyed said that this data provides useful insights for their own consultations.

On the other hand, out of the 1,009 GPs surveyed, Nesta also detected a higher trend of social prescribing, where patients are linked with sources of support in the community such as health coaching, group activities or peer support.

Group activities and self-management education in particular topped the list, but doctors nevertheless cited issues with patient confidence of willingness amongst the chief reasons preventing them from recommending these alternatives more frequently.

Other reasons as to why GPs do not recommend certain social prescribing routes to their patients – especially when it comes to peer support and health coaching (61%) – include a lack of familiarity with what is available in their local area.

Nesta argued that since 64% of people want more support and knowledge to look after their own health, these findings made a strong case for well-designed and supported social prescribing schemes.

Its dedicated Health Lab, which has for six years explored the potential of data-driven health, is now calling for greater recognition of the demand for people-powered health, both from people with health conditions and health professionals.

People-powered and data-driven ways of working should be implemented across the system, it added, using the best tools and evidence available.

The charity also demanded that the role of communities in their own health and wellbeing, such as through co-production, volunteering and social movements, is better valued – and, similarly, that the health and care workforce is better equipped and supported to understand and work in ‘people-powered ways’.

The Health Lab’s executive director, Halima Khan, said: “Helping people to better help themselves is important to making the health system more sustainable.

“With one in every two households home to someone with a long-term health condition, solutions that support people to get on top of their health should not be ignored.”

But these approaches are often underfunded, patchy and fragmented, added Khan.

“They’re also sometimes under-used simply because doctors and people who would benefit aren’t aware of them,” she continued. “The system must do more to ensure those that want access to support can get it.”

Today’s findings were released to coincide with Nesta’s event, ‘The Future of People Powered Health 2017’, which, in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, has brought together over 400 commissioners, providers and practitioners, as well as patients and charities, to explore these people-powered and data-driven solutions in greater depth.

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