NHS IT, Records and Data

17.12.18

On track: Why ‘mobile first’ is the future of medicine

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Danny Longbottom, director of local government and health at BT, explains how digital innovation is putting power in the hands of healthcare teams and patients.

What does checking your bank balance, navigating to Aberdeen, or listening to music have in common? To perform any of these tasks, you would reach for your smartphone. Mobile tech has transformed our world so quickly, the notion of walking to an ATM, consulting a road map, or sifting through CDs already feels old fashioned.

Healthcare is also on the threshold of becoming ‘mobile first.’ This digital transformation will ensure much-needed information is only ever a tap away. It’s empowering both health professionals and patients, and will leave us wondering how medical management ever worked differently.

Better connectivity can save time, money and lives

Our research shows that almost two-thirds of NHS trusts have a mobile strategy, and 84% expect mobile adoption to increase over the next two years. The main reason NHS executives identified for going mobile was to empower frontline staff.

Mobile solutions, such as cloud services, can ensure patients’ notes and test results are accessible wherever and whenever you need them. You can also update these in real time, meaning the next NHS professional you refer a patient onto will also be fully informed.

This is also the more critical during an emergency. We’ve helped London Air Ambulance improve their service using a solution designed for our 4G network. Pilots can find faster flight routes, while paramedics can share information – including high-quality medical images – with hospitals before the patients arrive, speeding up their treatment.

Working together in the cloud

The new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) is also helping transform healthcare. Replacing N3 as the nationwide backbone network for the NHS, the HSCN allows health and social care providers to share vital information more reliably, flexibly and efficiently.

To help achieve this goal, we’ve just won a five-year contract for HSCN services in south east England. We’ll help doctors and medical teams across 24 trusts and CCGs use cloud-based IT services to better support patients.

Health trackers empower patients

Now that they can track their own fitness with a mobile app or a wearable tracker, patients expect more from healthcare providers. The NHS should embrace this change as connected sensors allow patients to better manage their condition, while costing less for mass adoption.

Wearable tech can now monitor blood sugar levels, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, and sleep patterns. A sign of how sophisticated these devices are becoming, we recently worked with the NHS to identify undetected heart conditions by taking ECGs through a mobile attachment.

5G will fuel the mobile revolution

To handle increasingly mobile medical care, you need superior infrastructure. Your broadband must be able to support hundreds of people using it simultaneously, without a drop in speed – and mobile networks must offer reliable coverage.

Why BT EE Network and Managed Mobility: Say hello to a smarter digital future from BT Business on Vimeo.

But with mobile data usage set to rise by 50% by 2020, existing 3G and 4G networks aren’t going to cut it for much longer. Fortunately, we’re already testing the solution: 5G. It can handle a higher volume of devices, transfer data faster, and support larger file sizes.

Since October, five homes and five businesses in East London have been trialling our next-generation network. Aiming to achieve live speeds over 1Gbps, our test subjects are enjoying more reliable and responsive mobile internet.

As well as will supercharging our existing mobility solutions, 5G will open new opportunities. Providing smart devices with added bandwidth, 5G could allow health teams to monitor patients at home, rather than in hospital. They could even administer medicine remotely.

For more information

Join us and a panel of experts to talk about how organisations can power smarter working with SD-WAN on 28 February in London, with IDC analyst Chris Barnard, vice president of European Telecommunications and Networking at IDC, as keynote speaker.

E: christina.chan@bt.com

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