“Improving the lives of three million people with long term conditions through the use of technology’’ sounds a significant challenge and it is, but the challenge of dealing with increasing demand with no increase in resources is yet greater!
Technology is facilitating every other aspect of people’s lives and the 3millionlives programme is really asking ‘Are we maximising the use of technology to best advantage in healthcare?’ More specifically, I’m asking ‘Are AHPs using the potential technology has to offer in our clinical practice and enabling people to lead more independent lives?’ Technology can, not only help us manage increasing demand, but it can also improve outcomes for patients and improve their experience of healthcare.
AHPs have always used new technologies as they have been developed. Just think about the fantastic developments in imaging for radiographers, the use of motorised adaptations by occupational therapists and the incredible technology in modern prosthetics to name but a few.
The 3millionlives programme AHP event showed what amazing benefits the use of telehealth and telecare can bring to patients and to their friends and relatives. We want to make sure that people have access to services and information that helps them make their own decisions and manage their own conditions. That is what assistive technology such as telehealth and telecare does. They are the next steps along the same journey.
The Whole System Demonstrator programme, originally launched in 2008, was set up by the Department of Health (DH) to show just what telehealth and telecare is capable of achieving. The programme is one of the most complex trials ever undertaken by the DH and continues to provide useful information. Initial findings show that, when delivered properly, telehealth can substantially reduce mortality, reduce the need for admissions to hospital, lower the number of bed days spent in hospital and reduce the time spent in A&E. These are lifestyle changes for patients.
AHPs need to take a lead in taking forward this work, supported by the professional bodies. It will mean considerably rethinking our clinical practice and therefore our training and continuing professional development, but adapt and change we must!
I would encourage you all to learn more about these new technologies, what they can do and how they can improve care. With an ageing population and pressure on resources, can we afford to continue as we are? In today’s world of 24/7 on-line banking and shopping and social networking why should patients have to spend endless time in clinic waiting rooms?
As one patient participant in the whole systems demonstrator said: “It changes the whole concept of my life. I can get on with my daily activities – and am totally independent.”
Still on the issue of leadership, I attended the NHS Leadership Recognition Awards on 10 December and sat with two AHPs who were short listed in their categories, Rachael Masters and Lyndsey-Jayne Charles. There will be more about these awards in the next bulletin but what a privilege it was to see excellent leadership in practice!
- Follow Karen on Twitter: @KarenCHPO