Redditch MP Karen Lumley has said that while there are many problems with making health services ‘digital by default’ – not everyone has access to the internet and visits to medical professionals should not be completely done away with – “we must not fear change but embrace it”.
According to her, the advantages of using information technology to revolutionise the health system are many. For instance, during the Swine Flu crisis, patients were diagnosed and treated remotely and the spread of the disease was reduced thanks to online information resource NHS Direct.
But because many, especially the elderly, do not have access to the internet and because “the internet is not a means to replace or reduce the need to visit a medical professional when necessary… technology should be used to aid face-to-face health services rather than replace them.”
Services like booking appointments, accessing patient records, receiving crucial information via text or e-mail and simple diagnosis should be done online so that staff can focus energy and resources on those services that should be done face-to-face.
“There is no reason why we shouldn’t aspire for a future where, through logging onto your NHS file, you can receive personalised health information and suggestions such as dietary advice and regular tests for conditions which may be hereditary etc. based on your records. This will allow information technology to actually be a preventative tool in decreasing the likelihood of a serious health problem, in addition to being reactive in treating present conditions.”
Lumley also added that all public services should make the most of rapidly evolving technologies to improve efficiency while adding to the convenience of citizens.
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