As the digital world begins to transform everyday life as we know, one sector could benefit more than most.
There has been a lot of negative press recently around the position of the NHS and the strain on our health service. With demand higher than ever, staffing at critical level, and funding at a crises point, it’s a challenging time for our national health service.
However, the advancement of digital technologies may be able to relieve some of the pressure currently placed on the NHS. Digital technology is making healthcare more obtainable, often at a touch of a button. The volume of information on the internet means that 75% of the UK population admit to going online to look for health guidance. With knowledge being so accessible to all, through smart phones, computers and tablets, patients are able to determine whether they need to see a Doctor or healthcare professional before booking that costly appointment.
The rise in health apps has also resulted in us becoming more health conscious in general, this is supported by the fact that 21% of the population now use health wearables. This sort of behaviour is removing the sense of reliance between patient and doctor, and ensuring patients are making healthy lifestyle choices themselves, as prompted by the technology. Another exciting technological advancement is the use of virtual reality(VR) being subscribed to patients as an alternative to pain relief. VR users have reported pain levels dropping by half through the distraction of VR headsets, and this form of pain relief doesn’t need a Doctor’s prescription!
It’s safe to say that innovation within technology is already making ripples in the healthcare sector. It is estimated that by 2020 the digital healthcare market will be worth a staggering 233.3 billion US dollars, as the opportunity for digital healthcare goes well beyond the use of a few apps.
Is Bristol the home of healthcare innovation?
In the UK the rise in Digital healthcare technology is building momentum, and it seems that Bristol is becoming a hub for all things healthcare and innovative. Bristol is now home to some really exciting companies that are transforming out healthcare sector on a day to day basis.
The Independent Pharmacy is a fully regulated online pharmacy, providing both medicine and online consultations. Patients can log in, have an appointment with a certified Doctor and be prescribed the relevant prescription which is then delivered to their front door. The Independent Pharmacy is making healthcare more efficient and streamlined; no more waiting weeks for an appointment, or having to spend half the day in a Doctor’s waiting room.
Another innovative approach to healthcare is Connecting Care. Connecting Care is an online electronic patient record for Doctors and Nurses. The idea being that, anybody involved in a patient’s care can log in to view their patient records in order to monitor their recovery, and be aware of any particular causes for concern. Initiated in Bristol this service has the potential to be rolled out nationwide.
SPHERE, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, is a sensor platform that monitors an individual’s behaviours and movements in order to diagnose medical conditions. The sensors are being used over long periods of time to see how patients act and react to conditions and changes in lifestyle. The aim of the platform is to draw conclusions on medical behaviours and hopefully offer solutions to the treatment of future conditions.
As well as this, in recent years there has been a large increase in the number of healthcare marketing agencies that have made Bristol their home. Companies such as MedicoDigital, who offer web design and marketing services to healthcare professionals, are based in Bristol, alongside a lot of their clients. Medico works with both private and public healthcare companies to offer digital solutions to the services they provide. One core aspect of Medico’s approach is to work with Doctors to publish relevant healthcare content to the web, ensuring patients are able to find helpful information online.
In support of this rise in healthcare innovation, The South West Interactive Healthcare Programme was launched last June, offering digital healthcare companies the opportunity to get a piece of a £500,000 investment fund. The fund has been set up to support the development of innovative digital technology that offer solutions to tackle regional healthcare priorities. The fund shows us just how big the opportunity for healthcare innovation is within Bristol and the South West. With more and more companies moving West we could see some really exciting advancements in digital healthcare, with Bristol being the forefront of this change.