Squeezed budgets, political opposition and complex bureaucracy have made it difficult to bring the NHS into the digital age. But the life sciences industrial strategy report published on Monday called for a “new philosophy of collaboration and trust”
between the health industry’s public and private sectors to speed up adoption of innovative technologies and make the system more efficient. Technology companies are already transforming the health service, making it simpler for patients to book appointments and order prescriptions and allowing doctors to monitor their patients’ health and diagnose conditions more effectively.
One of the most high-profile of these is Babylon Health, which runs GP at Hand, a service launched last month that allows individuals to book an online video call appointment with an NHS doctor within two hours. Rather than having to take the morning off work to traipse into their local surgery, patients can consult with a GP on their smartphone in a quiet corner of their office or beside the side of the road.
It is currently just available in London but patients have already signed up “in their thousands”. Another perennial problem for patients is remembering to re-order repeat prescriptions. Echo is an app that keeps track of what medication you’re taking and then allows you to order a refill, which is delivered within a few days.