Almost one in three of the population have a long term condition, such as asthma, heart and lung disease, arthiritis or diabetes.
The NHS will not be able to meet this increase in demand unless it changes. Add to that the fragmented and inefficient way the NHS currently looks after people with long term conditions and the health service just won’t be able to cope a few years from now.
However, the 15 million people with a long term condition will benefit from a modernised NHS by being treated more effectively.
The new, modernised NHS will improve the lives of people with long term conditions by:
• giving them more support to self care – for example providing asthmatics with new technology they can use at home to check their lung function so they can pick up problems quickly before they get so bad they have to go to hospital
• remaining independent for longer using new technology – for example telehealth and telecare technology means people can have their vital signs monitored remotely by a health professional
• simplifying who cares most for a person – one professional not five
• healthcare professionals focussing on the overall health and wellbeing of the patient rather than just managing one of their conditions
‘The average cost of someone without a long term condition is around £1,000, which rises to £3,000 for someone with one condition and to £8,000 for people with three or more conditions.’ said Health Secretary Andrew Lansley ‘That’s one reason why we need to modernise the health service and the way we care for patients.’
Patients throughout the country are already benefitting from improvements.
In Ipswich a pilot project that has helped 107 patients to better manager their own conditions has seen a 75 per cent reduction in GP visits and a 75 per cent reduction in bed days in hospital over a six month period. Staff are also being trained to become health coaches to their patients.
Sutton Council has installed monitoring devices in patients’ homes so GPs can monitor their clients’ blood pressure, blood oxygenation and other indicators so they can take early action. A six month pilot in the borough reduced admissions and saved around £322,000.
In Swindon a Community Matron oversees patients with long term conditions. The Matron ensures people are educated about their condition and are more in control and confident to cope when they feel unwell. Using telehealth patients monitor their own blood pressure, weight and pulse knowing that there is someone at the end of the phone if their vital signs are not as they should be.
GPs in Barking and Dagenham are pinpointing high risk patients and giving them a care coordinator to prevent several people going to visit a patient.
Better outcomes, more efficient, improved involvement
Using technology at the health service’s disposal will help people stay independent for longer, receive care on-line or in their own homes, avoid unplanned hospital admissions or unnecessary visits to clinics. Offering different ways to communicate with health professionals means a more streamlined efficient NHS.