Patients in Greater Glasgow and Clyde may be able to ‘see’ their doctor without leaving their house in the future, thanks to an ambitious new digital strategy launched today (Tuesday, 21 August).
From life changing monitoring devices that allow people to self-manage health conditions from the comfort of their home, to the clinical and business systems that support our services, the strategy sets out how digital technology to support NHSGGC to provide a truly integrated and modern health and social care service.
The Board’s Director of eHealth, William Edwards said: “People expect to use technology in all areas of their lives and health and care should be no exception. With most people owning a smart phone, the bar is set high in terms of what the ‘computer in our pocket’ can do to make our lives more healthy, convenient and productive.
“Technology such as fitness and exercise apps have proved that an active lifestyle can be fun and socially rewarding, and access to medical advice is becoming more prevalent via digital channels.
“Digital technology provides the opportunities to support transformational change and to make care safer, sustainable and allow people to become active participants in their care.
“It also has the potential to radically improve our lives, and this includes all aspects of health and care. Digital technology will be central to delivering the transformational change that is necessary to support integrated health and social care into the future.”
In developing its strategy, NHSGGC has been looking at how technology is being used elsewhere to enhance patient care. In Sweden for example the number of patients using tele - and video consultations has increased nearly twenty fold. Hundreds of thousands of Swedes are accustomed to meeting doctors online now.
William added: “Opportunity exists to implement virtual clinics and online appointment capability to facilitate the option for remote consultations using digital means via a laptop or smart phone app, telephone, email, video conference or online portals.
“Already success in Australia and closer to home with ‘NHS Near Me’ in NHS Highland, remote consultations give greater choice and convenience for people that would ordinarily have to travel long distances for routine check-ups and help alleviate administration across our services.”
The Board will also explore Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to transform health outcomes for its patients.
By collecting more regular and timely healthcare information for individual people, such as home based wearables that transmit live healthcare statistics to clinicians; the opportunity will exist to process patient information in increasingly sophisticated ways.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) provide opportunities to monitor and detect healthcare trends and anomalies that will support clinicians making quicker and more informed decisions. We will explore AI opportunities for routing referrals to reduce the time taken to make decisions.
William said: “This is a very ambitious and exciting strategy for NHSGGC and I am optimistic that our staff will seize this opportunity not only to use technology to make the patient experience better but also to relieve pressure on our services.
“With the increasing impact of digital across the organisation, it is important to provide feedback – to ensure that the digital strategy continues to meet not only the strategic direction of the Board, and the Scottish Government, but also the needs of our patients. If patients wish to get involved please email [email protected] .”
Find out more about how NHSGGC is using technology to help its patients in this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IgWkOfqQiE&t=1s&rel=0
One patient who is already benefitting from AI /ML is 72-yearold Ken Rutherford from Milngavie. Ken had been sleeping in a chair for two years as he couldn’t breathe when he lay down, before a new NHS treatment plan for ‘giving him his life back’.
Ken, who has suffered from COPD for seven years, is now back in his bed and sleeping well thanks to a new treatment plan which sees medics monitor his breathing remotely.
He was started on non-invasive ventilation (NIV) treatment which involves wearing a mask, with a small machine which senses breathing in and out, and blows air at a varying intensity to increase the capacity of the patient’s breathing. New technology, being trialled in Glasgow, allowed Ken to have his ventilation monitored remotely, with medics at the hospital able to review the readings from the machine and changing the machine settings via an online portal.
Ken said: “I am so glad I met Dr Carlin and started on the trial. Doctors and nurses at Gartnavel can monitor my sleeping and breathing at any time but don’t do it all the time. Once I decided to have a nap in the afternoon and they call up the house to check why it was in use. It’s nice to know they are keeping an eye on me!
“I think this technology could change things dramatically for appropriate patients. I hear the equipment is cheaper for the NHS than a night in hospital so it makes sense financially too. It might not be needed for everyone but it’s made the world of difference for me. I’m in hospital a lot less now and have much more energy.”
For more information contact: NHSGGC press office on 0141 201 4429 or [email protected]