Push-Pull Healthcare

This article in the Guardian chimes with a lot of thinking I’ve been doing on healthcare recently. I encourage you to read past the attention-grabbing headline. This is not about Artificial Intelligence – though there are a lot of interesting potential applications for AI in healthcare, which I plan to blog about soon – it is about an application which passively monitors patients’ data in a hospital, and alerts clinicians when it detects a signs of a deterioration.

There are two noteworthy aspects to the story. The first is the break away from using hospital desktop PCs to staff-owned mobile devices. Many NHS hospitals are tip-toeing in that direction, or at least they were before the current UK healthcare funding crunch. For employees, the opportunity to Bring Your Own Device, as it is catchingly known in IT circles, is on the up. I know of one hospital that has built an app to allow doctors to take medical images using an iPhone. (For reasons of confidentiality, it only works on the premises via WiFi, and the images were not stored on the phone itself.)

The second point to take away is the opening up of new ways of working. Here to the benefit of clinical care quality.

Much of the current model of health care is one of ‘push’. You go to see your GP, she says you need to go to hospital for some tests. Push. You have your tests, meet with the consultant, who refers you to another. Push. Who says you need an op. Push.

But here there was a ‘pull’ option.  The Hark app calls the doctor to the patient when he’s needed. Pull.

What if you had an little electronic personal helper which would pull you through the system. Acting on your behalf, letting both you and your clinicians know when they need to act. Not just making sure you never forgot an appointment, but also making sure the hospital never forgot either.

(Not an issue? It happens more often than you think. As I type, there are nine NHS trusts with serious issues tracking patient pathways and one which has just found 7,000 patients missing from its waiting lists.)

Reduced reliance on humans entering data. Reduced errors. Reduced cost. Improved patient experience. Improved patient care.

That’d be nice.

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