NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG

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A Digital Heath Service

A Digital Heath Service

It’s easy to forget how quickly technology advances. We have talked about tele health and tele care for a number of years but perhaps we have not fully maximising the use of it in the health and social care services.

Towards the end of July I was able to visit a new housing development at Moorgate Mill in Blackburn which comprises two buildings each with several apartments available for rent. More importantly the apartments came with both staff and a range of equipment available to help the tenants live as independently as possible.

Whilst on holiday in Spain earlier this year I met a lady who broke off our conversation to talk to her mother via SKYPE. She then went on to use her laptop to close the curtains in the house and adjust the heating as a cold night was forecast. I found this a remarkable advancement! More simply my son recently told me about a service which allows him to reorder prescriptions on line and arrange to pick them up from his local pharmacist.

I held both these examples in mind when I attended the first meeting of the Lancashire Digital Health Board. This panel considers how we can make better use of the available technology to support us to enjoy better health and to get the right help quickly and effectively when we need it. The aim is to use technology to share data so that we

  • more effectively support people to be healthy and well;
  • empower people to use their own health data to manage their lives and make healthy choices;
  • enable people to get access to services in new ways.

I ask would it be advantageous if records held by the numerous health professionals we see are shared? Should we create a system where if I go and see my GP about headaches and he suspects that the cause might be to do with my eyesight he can access the information held by my Optician? And if I go to my Dentist and he notices I have mouth ulcers can he quickly look at the records held by my GP  to check if the problem is associated with medication I have been prescribed for my asthma?

There are also increasing numbers of Aps being produced which are health related and often used monitoring their fitness. Could these apps which record blood pressure and pulse rate when running or cycling be sent to the practice nurse in advance of a health check so that they can gather a more rounded picture of our health?

Many of us are used to Banking on line, shopping on line booking holidays on line. What more can we do to manage our health on line?

These are the topics being considered as part of the digital health initiative which if it is to be successful will build on what works by listening to people and giving us greater control. I welcome any thoughts from you about making the technology help the NHS in its work.