NHS patients diagnosed with long-term illnesses could monitor their symptoms and conditions remotely, if proposals announced last week get the go ahead. This would be made possible through wearable technology, smartphone apps and digital clothing that would be linked to the wearer´s medical records, it was reported in The Telegraph.
This is just one part of a much wider digital revolution that is taking place in the UK right now. Changes we can expect to see in the healthcare industry over the next five years include patients speaking with their doctor via videolink and individuals being able to access their entire medical record online.
Wearable technology already monitors people´s heart rates, sleeping patterns and alcohol intake. And following the successful trial of apps to remind people to take medication, it is expected these will be more widely available in the near future.
The next wave of wearable technology could see people suffering from persistent conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease being monitored around the clock, and any problems detected immediately. In addition, companies are looking into health gadgets that can check blood pressure, monitor insulin levels or even detect depression through the language used on social networks.
There is also talk of turning the entire NHS estate into a free Wi-Fi zone, opening up the possibility of using wearables to monitor patients.
There is an undeniable growing pressure on the NHS and healthcare services in the UK. It is predicted that three million people will suffer from a long-term illness by 2018. However, this new digital revolution could significantly lighten the load for medical professionals and save the NHS as much as £5 billion over the coming ten years.