Roller Healthcare
January 17, 2018

NHS In Crisis – Are Virtual Doctors The Answer?

Written By Madeleine Kirk

With growing pressures in hospitals across the UK, more often than not, ‘NHS in crisis’ stories are hitting headline news. With technology becoming a bigger part of everyday life, is it time for healthcare services to be transformed by technology?

Technological Advances

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With the New Year comes new technological trends and advances in all sectors; home smart speakers such as Google Home and fitness tracker usage are two of the increasingly popular trends for 2018. These also bring new advances to the medical sector and ways in which technology can advance healthcare and relieve pressure on the overstretched medical staff.

Healthcare technologies could have the capability to improve healthcare services on all fronts. Technologies can help with not only day to day diagnosis and treatment but could also allow researchers to access elaborate global databases to understand not only the full extent of a medical condition but also increase the probability of finding a cure.     

Increasing Pressure

freestocks org 126848 e1516200495790 - NHS In Crisis - Are Virtual Doctors The Answer?Whilst GP surgeries have been moving in the direction of ‘over the phone’ appointments to relieve workload and allow time for more serious cases, people are set in their ways of wanting to speak to a doctor face-to-face. However these phone appointments have not proven to reduce GP workload. Along with over the phone appointments, medical apps are also available for self-diagnosis and treatment. Although this may be a good idea for minor problems, people are sceptical about trusting a computerized system in diagnosing a more acute medical problem.

Healthcare digitisation has already started with patients and practitioners being able to access patient records at the click of a button. This entails easy accessibility for those who are unfamiliar with technology and quick for practitioners who already have an overstretched workload.    

Implementation of Artificial Intelligence

oliver thomas klein 144899 - NHS In Crisis - Are Virtual Doctors The Answer?Nationwide implementation of AI may provide heaps of benefits and substantial changes for the NHS. Once implemented it could see a huge cost savings in the long run and diagnose patients more quickly. However, implementing such systems may require significant investment. The under resourced health service is teetering on the brink of collapse and is only just being kept afloat by additional money. But in some ways some may say that the NHS is not failing; it is succeeding doing amazing things despite under funding. It is however, being failed by the lack of investment and the ability to fund technological advances may be in jeopardy.

Such systems could have the ability to keep patients out of hospitals who do not necessarily need to be there. AI can be used to decrease the burden on medical staff by reducing the amount of administrative work having to be completed manually. Thus relieving pressure on the overstretched medical practitioners and generating quicker turnaround times for certain patients.

The uncertainty of how and when more advanced systems will be and can be put in place in still uncertain. There are prime examples of healthcare systems that have already been put in place and how much of a positive impact they have on not only healthcare staff but also patients in their care.