News roundup: medical devices & digital healthcare

Healthcare news roundup: it’s a new year - but here’s a look at the past week at Healthcare Digital - we cover increased digitisation & men’s mental health

Increased digitisation will revolutionise healthcare

Stefan Spendrup, VP of Sales, Northern and Western Europe at SOTI, shares how increased digitisation will transform the healthcare industry

Long wait times, seemingly endless waits for GP appointments and overloaded A&E departments have prompted health leaders to revolutionise digital practices within the healthcare industry. Gone are the days of traditional doctors and hospital appointments – UK institutions are currently on the brink of a digital transformation, with experts predicting soon digital appointment systems and artificial intelligence (AI) will begin to be used in patient diagnosis and illness prevention. 

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed cracks and inefficiencies within the healthcare infrastructure and highlighted that IT healthcare professionals must work to digitally transform the healthcare industry to prevent further negative impacts on patient care. 

While patients are avidly waiting for a health tech revolution, there is still work to be done. Currently, 59% of IT healthcare professionals agree their organisations regularly experience problems with IoT/telehealth medical devices resulting in device downtime and delays to patient care. 

SOTI’s recent research report estimates device downtime is costing UK healthcare providers an average of 167 hours a year, resulting in 21 days per year that practitioners are busy resolving tech issues and not patient care. A further 74% agree their organisations need to invest in new or better technology to prepare for any future health crises. 

It is time for healthcare institutions to embrace change and revolutionise their operating systems to offer patients better care and faster diagnosis.

 

Bringing healthcare home to empower patients and clinicians

In years gone by, the only access that many had to healthcare was the village doctor. They’d make personal house calls to nearby patients, tackling bruises, broken bones, emergencies—and everything in between. Then, as technology and science developed, most health services relocated to larger, specialist facilities like healthcare centres and hospitals. But now that remote working is a mainstay of post-pandemic life, could parts of healthcare follow the same path—and go full circle back home?

Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic are now being used to improve not just healthcare crises, but everyday medicine. Take vaccinations, for instance. A standard, pre-COVID-19 vaccine development process involved multiple stages, and often took up to ten years for the medicine to be fully authorised. To urgently combat COVID-19, new collaborative approaches to science, manufacturing and distribution were created, resulting in record-breaking vaccine rollouts. This proved that traditional methods were inefficient and no longer sustainable for our modern world. 

Looking to the future, decentralised medicinal trials, in which the process is moved into the patients’ homes, can remove remaining bottlenecks and harness tech such as AI to enable even faster results. In fact, a record number of around 1,300 decentralised trials are being carried out in 2022, representing a 28% YoY increase. However, we can’t expect this to become the norm just yet. Instead, a hybrid mix of onsite patient and remote visits, using healthcare facilities closer to the patient’s home, will begin to form the basis of upcoming trials until full decentralisation is widely accepted. 

Words by Carolina Wosiack, Managing Director EMEA, CI&T

 

The role of digital technology in men’s mental health

For people suffering from mental health problems there has never been a better time to seek support. This is because the stigma surrounding mental health has continued to dissipate. According to the latest National Attitudes to Mental Illness Survey, attitudes towards people with mental health challenges has improved by 9.6% since 2009. People’s openness to having contact with someone with a mental health problem has improved by 11% over the same period. 

Yet despite this progress, when it comes to men’s mental health, persistent stigmas and stereotypes remain, acting as dangerous obstacles to receiving care. For many men, talking about mental health struggles is still considered “unmanly,” or somehow weak. As a result, help often arrives all too late. It’s a telling and desperately sad statistic that in the UK, suicide is the number one killer of men under the age of 45. 

The statistics reflect a serious gender imbalance around the consequences of mental health problems. Men are approximately three times more likely than women to take their own lives, or to become dependent on drugs or alcohol. It’s reasonable to suggest that the unwillingness of many men to discuss their struggles lies behind this disparity – after all, just 36% of NHS referrals for talking therapies are for men. Unless men can be helped to seek help sooner, the slide from mental health struggle to full-blown crisis will be difficult to stop.  

However, encouraging more men to come forward with their problems is a significant challenge, and it will not be solved overnight. What’s required is nothing less than a systemic transformation.

Words by Dr Chuk Anyaegbuna, Clinical Service Lead at Koa Health

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