The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom has announced plans to spend nearly $6 billion in an effort to go digital in all aspects of care.
Announced by the UK’s Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the plan is in many ways a top to bottom modernization of the way the NHS delivers care. Including are over $2 billion to go “paper free” and over $1 billion on cybersecurity and data management.
In addition, there are plans to spend nearly $1 billion to promote, among other things, remote care. In fact, one of the NHS’ goals is to have 25% of patients with a chronic condition like hypertension or diabetes monitoring their health remotely by 2020.
Also included are plans to develop systems to let patients book appointments online & schedule virtual visits with their doctors. As highlighted in a recent Accenture report, these are among the most demanded services by patients in the United States yet something that health systems do not include in their digital offerings – a deficiency that they argued contributes to remarkably poor uptake here of health system created apps.
The NHS is also going to jump back into the world of health apps after its earlier misadventures with the Health Apps Library. That effort aimed to offer patients apps vetted by the NHS but was plagued by problems including a very limited library as well as security problems discovered in the apps they “approved.” This plan calls for over $500 million to build a new NHS site, develop new apps, and otherwise encourage the use of health apps by patients. When it comes to third party apps, the NHS is piloting a more rigorous app review and approval process that is much more condition specific.
This plan is in very early stages, with specifics on how this will all happen still being worked out. But it will be worth following from across the pond to see what lessons we can take from this forward-thinking, large scale experiment. While our system is quite different than that in the UK, as healthcare consolidation continues and the ACO model grows, the lessons learned could become increasingly transferable to our health system.