UK to become 'world leader' in healthcare technology

15 November 2012
By David Spencer
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Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

The UK will become a "world leader" in health technology as new technology will allow patients with chronic illness to manage their conditions from home.

UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that novel technology will enable patients with long-term conditions to manage their conditions from home. This was announced by Hunt as a part of the NHS’s mandate. 

Hunt has set a series of goals, one which will include a plan to allow all NHS patients in England to book GP appointments online by 2015. Additionally they will be able to view test results and order repeat prescriptions over the Internet. Internet access will also allow online medical records.

Hunt’s mandate also includes plans to allow patients to have "secure electronic communication" with their GPs, including Skype and email-based visits becoming more accessible. Health ministers also hope this program accessibility will mean alleviated hassle of phone-contact with GP surgeries.

“People with long-term conditions see doctors and nurses more than most of us,” said Hunt speaking at an Age UK conference, “seven out of every £10 spent on the health budget go towards supporting them. I want to free people with long-term conditions from the constant merry-go-round of doctors' surgeries and hospitals.

Hunt continued to say: "Technology can help people manage their condition at home, free up a lot of time and save the NHS money. In a world where technology increasingly helps us manage our social and professional lives, it seems logical that it should also help people manage their health."

The logical sense was also supported by charity director  general at Age UK, Michelle Mitchell: "Supporting people to care for themselves and equipping them with the skills and tools to manage their health must be a priority for the NHS. For some, telehealth will play an important part in achieving this.

Mitchell said: "Empowering people to respond to changes in their long-term conditions or helping them take control of their symptoms could help them to remain independent for longer and avoid the need for health services. For older people, this can mean staying in their own home and retaining confidence to carry on with their day-to-day lives."

Telehealth will mean a reduction of doctor-patient face time and will not be a replacement in the longer term. Mitchell concluded that “it could give many people a real chance of taking control of their health and improving wellbeing”. 

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