NHS to rely on mobile apps and wearables

NHS to rely on mobile apps and wearables

NHS to rely on mobile apps and wearables
NHS to rely on mobile apps and wearables

Data from wearables and the IoT is already making waves in many industries, but now it’s set to revolutionize the way patient records are kept at health institutions in the UK.

UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced this week that, for the first time, data from approved apps will be used to update personal health records.

Patients in England will be able to log onto the official NHS website and enter their symptoms in a bid to receive timely support from medics.

Paperless NHS

This news comes as the NHS is implementing a paperless system. Back in February, the government announced that £4 billion would be set aside for the scheme.

The new online service is still being developed and will be piloted before being released to the public in full. Data around maternity, cancer and health data is to be prioritized and added later this year.  

Patients will also have the ability to compare the performance of their local clinics and hospitals, and the website will house selection of NHS-approved health apps and services.

App and wearables revolution

“We are going to make very big moves in the next 12 months into apps and wearables. I wear a Fitbit, many people use apps. What is going to change with apps is the way that these apps link directly into our own medical records,” Hunt said in a statement.

“And by March next year NHS England are going to publish a library of approved apps in areas like mental health and chronic conditions like diabetes.

“We will also in the next 12 months be having a competition because we think we need better apps than the ones that are available in the market.

“We don’t want to develop them ourselves but we want them to be developed by entrepreneurs who have the specialist knowledge and creativity to do this.

“These will link into people’s medical records.”

Some concerns

Tony Pickering, professional services director at Ricoh UK, believes the announcement is a positive one for the NHS but has some concerns. “Providing patients with instant access to healthcare records through approved apps and wearables is a positive step towards a paperless NHS,” he said.

“But this initiative must be supported by a wider strategy designed to improve the management of health records, safely and securely. Accelerating the digitisation of paper-based records, designing improved sharing processes and new ways of working should all be top of the health secretary’s to-do list.”