NHS not au fait with mobile-savvy patients

pharmafile | December 19, 2014 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing NHS, app, digital, health, mobile, smartphones, wearables 

The NHS is failing to keep up with its digital generation of patients, a recent study has found. 

Despite a 118% increase in mobile visits to hospital websites, only 43% of these sites have been found to be mobile-optimised. And according to digital healthcare agency Integrated Change who compiled the research, 36% of NHS website visits in August alone were from mobiles or tablets. 

“It’s apparent that patients are incredibly receptive to mobile technology. And the NHS has some brilliant web resources for users and plenty of content for those looking for accurate healthcare information, says Integrated Change founder and development director Scott Hague. 

“However, what the NHS is failing to do is to ensure that this wealth of information is available to users in a format that reflects how they’re trying to access it. You could go as far as to say that failing to mobile optimise this content means the investment in maintaining it is wasted for a huge proportion of users.” 

The study which was borne from Freedom of Information Requests to a number of NHS trusts, assessed the amount of mobile apps available to patients and users by 159 NHS trusts. It was found that just 15% of those had actually invested in mobile apps.

Not embracing digital initiatives flies in the face of the government’s recent plans that just in November saw proposals to improve health outcomes and quality of patient care – through digital technology and innovation.

The Department of Health’s Personalised Health and Care 2020 strategy includes ideas for an ‘NHS app store’ and initiatives to digitalise records and removing the limitations found with paper.

At the time of the proposal, Tim Kelsey who is NHS England’s national director for patients and information said: “We must embrace modern technology to help us lead healthier lives. Our ambition is to make the NHS a digital pioneer for our patients and citizens.”

Digital technology of the future

November also saw government plans to introduce a ‘kitemark’ to safely validate healthcare apps. The idea is to give doctors the confidence to recommend approved apps that should help patients manage health conditions.

Everyone should be able to access their health records at the click of a button also according to the government, with scope to allow patients the chance to add their own opinions alongside official medical notes. 

Across the pond the landscape in the US differs from that in the UK, where 36% of US healthcare companies have no mobile strategy in place or offer any apps at all.

This gap has been identified and the US healthcare industry is said to be reacting, with 52% of organisations soon expected to make use of mobile apps and websites, and the UK must now follow suit according to the agency behind this study.

Tom Robinson

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