Health services are now expected to deliver quality care with a shrinking budget. The digital 'channel shift' could be the answer, but attitudes to technology in the sector must change.
In an exclusive interview with the Information Daily, Sudhesh Kumar, Pro Dean Research of Warwick Medical School, reflects on the progress and problems of health services in adapting to new technologies and new methods of communication.
"I don't think digital technology is a problem. I think there's issues around the way we use it. For example, one of the challenges is that we don't adopt the best technologies fast enough. In my hospital, we don't even have WiFi access". It is clearly impossible to even begin instigating more complex systems before basic services such as wireless internet are introduced.
"There are rather curious rules about sharing data. Between professionals there has been a lot of confusion in this country about what you're allowed to share, that actually acts as a barrier to sharing information.
"The patient does not seem to own the data.. which means that the patient can't pass the data on to different agencies that need it… Its very frustrating for the patients and wastes a lot of time for the professionals".
The shift within the NHS to systems of interaction that take advantage of new technology is long overdue, and has only recently been accelerated by external political agendas which have required the NHS to make millions of pounds worth of cuts. The only way to do this without damaging key services is toimprove NHS operations.
"I think remote healthcare has to be the way we go now. The reason is, for a long period of time now, we've had more and more people going to doctors for various things. Most of the time, I am sitting there when I have a patient in front of me, and thinking 'why did they come here?"