Healthcare Roundup – 31st March 2017

Nurse

News in brief

NHS England outlines next steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View: NHS England has published Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View, setting out what the original forward view has achieved since 2015 and the NHS’s priorities for the next two years, reported Health Service Journal (HSJ – subscription required). The plan is focused on delivery and contains new policies for sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), elective care, primary care, mental health and increasing the workforce. The plan announced the nine areas most likely to evolve into “accountable care systems”. Other announcements included: STPs and vanguard sites are to be held to account on how well they can contain the growth in A&E admissions and bed days over the next two years; new care model vanguards are to be docked funding if they do not successfully reduce A&E activity. NHS England has said the service will need more nurses by 2020 and has announced a series of reforms to increase numbers, as well reforms to enable more flexible working; and GP practices are to be divided into regional hubs covering populations of up to 50,000 as part of plans to revolutionise primary care at scale in two years. In an interview with HSJ about the plan, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the NHS is trapped in a “reinforcing cycle” of increased demand leading to higher costs. He highlighted the impact of increasing pressures, saying “hospital activity and costs have gone up faster than hospital income”. This meant £2.4bn was spent on shoring up services rather than on transformation. “Given the difficult financial position in which we find ourselves, NHS England deserves credit for producing an ambitious plan for reform and transformation which must be the right approach,” Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: “But we have to acknowledge that there are significant risks and in some respects it is a leap in the dark. We have no alternative but to embark upon such fundamental change, but to do so when services are under enormous pressure and money is so tight is without precedent.”

Technology plans outlined in NHS Five Year Forward View update: In the technology and innovation section of the Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View, the plan announced a spring launch for the NHS Digital Apps Library, as well as stating that parents in London will have access to their children’s health record through the online “red book” from April 2017. Further updates include that, by September 2017, NHS England will have upgraded NHS Choices to become NHS.UK; there will be free wifi in GP surgeries, and there will be improvements to NHS 111 Online. By December 2017 every A&E, urgent treatment centre (UTC) and ePrescribing pharmacy will have access to extended patient data either through the summary care record or local care record sharing services. The document also said that NHS England will have access to primary care records, mental health crisis and end of life plan information available in 40% of A&Es and UTCs. In 2017-18, the NHS Innovation Accelerator will select another round of innovations that address the population challenges prioritised by sustainability and transformation plans, and Academic Health Science Networks and ‘test beds’ will take collective responsibility for driving national adoption of proven innovations, in line with the Accelerated Access Review.

New GDEs named alongside changes in IT system procurement: NHS England’s Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View named four more acute global digital exemplars (GDEs), noted DigitalHealth.net. Subject to Treasury approval, these will be Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust with Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust; Newcastle upon Type Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; and Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. The report said that a GDE’s “task is not only to become great, but to work with other acute trusts to develop a blueprint that can be deployed to other hospitals”. The plan noted: “Our intention is that, in the future, hospitals won’t merely choose an IT vendor, they will choose a hospital that they want to partner with and implement the same system, keeping the IT 80% the same and making only the 20% of changes that are absolutely necessary to meet local needs.” This would mean that the majority of hospitals will no longer choose their own IT vendor and systems, reported Health Service Journal (subscription required). Hospitals will partner with “exemplars” and replicate their “blueprints” rather than procuring systems themselves.

Provider deficit will be ‘at least £500m’ in 2017-18: NHS trusts are heading for a deficit of more than £500m next year, the body which represents the sector has warned, reported Health Service Journal (HSJ – subscription required). National regulators have said 2017-18 is supposed to be the year when the provider sector returned to financial balance. But Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, has told HSJ: “We understand that after recent discussions, providers are heading for at least a £500m to £600m deficit in 2017-18. There is also now growing financial pressure on the commissioning side and serious doubt on whether they can remain in surplus and cover the provider deficit from a non-recurrent reserve to the same extent that they did this year.” Hopson said the pressure on commissioning budgets is thought to be “similar” to the provider side, which suggests “currently something like a £1bn gap in the NHS’s 2017-18 finances”. More than a quarter of trusts have rejected their financial targets for next year.

NHS funds diverted to private sector: According to analysis by the Financial Times (subscription required) independent providers gained around half the extra £2bn given in 2014 to bolster services, with about half the additional money injected into the health service being spent on treating patients outside the NHS. The discovery that operations and other activities were outsourced to private sector providers because NHS hospitals lacked the capacity to carry them out will intensify pressure on Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, as he announces his progress report on his five-year plan to overhaul the system. Then-chancellor George Osborne’s decision to allocate an additional £2bn in his 2014 Autumn Statement was seen as a considerable coup for the NHS boss. It ensured that in 2015-16 health received its largest increase since the final year of Labour government. At the time Stevens said the government had listened to his request for funding “to sustain frontline NHS services and kick-start transformation”. However, data analysis carried out by the Health Foundation, an independent charity, shows that only about half the extra money given by Osborne was spent in the NHS. Health commissioners spent a total of £900m of the extra cash on buying care from private sector, and other non-NHS providers, compared with just £800m spent on purchasing the same kind of care from NHS trusts. This means that £1 in £8 of local commissioners’ budgets is now spent on care provided outside the NHS.

MPs call for urgent review of social care funding: An urgent review of social care funding is needed as “inadequate” resources are placing people at serious risk, the Communities and Local Government Committee has warned. In a report published this week the committee called on ministers to provide extra funding for social care while addressing the long-term problems facing the sector, reported Public Finance. Its report stated “unless significant extra funds are provided in the short and medium terms, the social care system will be unable to cope with the demands placed upon it. Extra funding alone will not solve the problems that face us, but without it the other steps we have suggested [social care] will quite simply fail.” The committee welcomed chancellor Philip Hammond’s commitment to provide an additional £2bn for social care over the next three years but said this was not enough to close the social care funding gap. MPs suggested a £1.5bn tranche from the improved Better Care Fund should be made immediately available to meet the shortfall in 2017-18 and that the government should commit to closing the adult social care funding shortfall for 2019-20. Committee chair Clive Betts said: “A long-term fix, working on a cross-party basis and involving the public and social care sector, is urgently necessary to meet the ever-increasing demographic pressures on the system. This review must be ambitious and consider a wide range of potential funding sources, looking again at age-related expenditure, options such as a hypothecated tax for social care, a compulsory insurance scheme, and differences in how individuals contribute.”

Article 50: Theresa May warned to safeguard NHS workforce: A coalition of health and social care providers has warned Theresa May that she must protect the UK’s ability to recruit and retain staff, as she begins the process of removing the UK from the EU, reported Health Service Journal (subscription required). The Cavendish Coalition, supported by the NHS Confederation, has set out what it thinks the government needs to focus on during its negotiations with the EU to maintain safe health and social care services. The group, which was set up following last June’s referendum result, has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, home secretary Amber Rudd and Brexit secretary David Davis, urging them to develop an immigration policy based on the skill and public service value of individuals rather than the salary they will earn. EU staff already working in the health and care system should be protected, the letter said. So far the government has refused to offer a guarantee over the future status of EU nationals working in the UK, however, Davis has said this will be one of the first things to be raised in negotiations. The Cavendish Coalition said it wanted a “future immigration system where public service value is used as a key assessment of ‘skill’ as opposed to salary, and which guarantees the status of EU staff already working in health and care”. It added: “We are also calling for a straight-forward and responsive transitional system for people from the European Economic Area during the period between any ‘cut off’ date after which EU nationals coming to live and work in the EU will not be guaranteed leave to remain and having a new and operational immigration system.”

Welsh government announces £20m extra social care spending: The Welsh government has announced it will spend an extra £20m on social care this year to bring it into line with England, reported LocalGov.co.uk. It said this is on top of the £25m for social care provided to local authorities through the revenue support grant and £10m to help meet workforce cost pressures. Welsh finance secretary Mark Drakeford said: “This announcement demonstrates the importance that we attach to our social care sector. Despite the cuts we have seen to our budget, we have continued to prioritise funding for social care and taken specific measures to support the sustainability of the social care sector, including investing £60m through the Intermediate Care Fund to support the integration of health and social care. The extra £20m provides an important boost and brings our total additional investment in social services to £55m in 2017-18.”

Councils must look to resolve social care enquiries ‘at front door’: Councils lack clear strategies for managing demand for social care services and insufficient data to analyse how best to use resources and improve services for patients, including better assessment and signposting for patients at first point of contact, a report by the Institute for Public Care (IPC) has found. The findings recommended six steps towards delivering better social care in the community, reported Public Sector Executive. It found that there was a need to focus on the two ‘front doors’ of social care: public enquiries with GPs and nurses, and hospital enquiries which were usually made over the phone or online. It warned that councils needed to be better equipped to respond to this range of contact points to manage demand properly and in a more efficient way by getting patients to the right place first time round. If councils were able to address this, the IPC argued that as much as 75% of social care enquiries could be resolved at first contact, lessening the number of referrals to council services. The organisation also emphasised the need for professionals in health and social care to work together to assess needs and identify the right services to deliver the best outcome for patients, adding that the “primary aim should always be to help a person to return home”. “Two features often missing from councils’ approaches to delivering social care are a clear strategy on managing demand and the analysis of data required to understand the impact of that strategy,” the report stated. 

Promised funding fails to reach frontline GPs: NHS England must urgently address its ‘scandalous’ failure to pass promised GP resilience funding down to the frontline, reported the British Medical Association. That is the warning from doctors’ leaders after a BMA survey revealed the promised £40m fund is not yet finding its way to GP surgeries in need. The survey of local medical committees found that in February this year, practices had only been identified and notified of their receipt of resilience funding in just over half of the areas that responded – 24 out of 40. And of these, funding had found its way to the front line in only 16. The BMA GPs committee has written to NHS England calling for immediate action – warning that the funding must be retained, ring-fenced and sent to practices that need support before patients are affected or surgeries forced to close. BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul said: “The resilience funding is a key element of the GP Forward View aimed at supporting practices that are under incredible pressure from rising demand, stagnating budgets and staff shortages. It is completely unacceptable that the BMA’s survey shows that a postcode lottery has developed, with wide disparities over where the funding is being practically delivered. This is scandalous given that clinical commissioning groups were allocated these funds in the autumn and under the government’s promised plan, practices should have been notified by December if they were eligible, with the resources supposedly arriving this month. In many cases these deadlines are being completely missed. The BMA has written to NHS England asking them to urgently address this serious operational failure.”

City investor bids to buy Circle in £74m deal: A City investment firm is set to buy Circle, one of the NHS’s most high profile private providers, in a deal the company said values it at around £74m. Circle’s board recommended to its shareholders to agree to the deal to sell all shares to Bidco, a subsidiary of London-based investment firm Toscafund that already owns 27% of Circle’s shares. The offer would see the investment firm pay 30p per share. The deal will now be put to the rest of Circle’s shareholders, which comprises a small group of large investment firms and a trust that oversees a stake owned by staff of around 25%. A company spokesman told Health Service Journal (subscription required): “The offer for Circle Holdings values it at £74.1m overall. Because Toscafund already owns shares, the cost of ‘Bidco’ bidding for the rest of the shares is less.” The company indicated it believed its strategy would remain broadly the same under the new ownership but Bidco would be able to inject significant capital. Circle chairman Michael Kirkwood said: “While much progress has been made on many fronts, the need to scale the business to achieve sustainable free cash flow and profitability is presently impacted by capital constraints. Under the single ownership of a well-resourced bidder, and without the costs and distractions of a public listing, the management team will have greater flexibility to accelerate the growth opportunities that exist and, importantly, maintain the company’s primary goal of outstanding patient care and outcomes.”

Stevens backs major £400m medicines savings drive: Simon Stevens is to back plans to save hundreds of millions of pounds a year by cutting NHS spending on “low priority” prescriptions, including gluten-free products and medicines that can easily be bought over the counter. The project supported in this week’s Five Year Forward View “delivery plan”, will aim to drive down spending on medicines in four categories that cost the NHS an estimated £400m a year. Commissioners said the NHS could not provide “anything you fancy from the sweet shop”. The categories to be targeted include: products of “low clinical effectiveness” and products where there is a more cost effective alternative. NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC), which represents most clinical commissioning groups, has developed the project and sought national backing. Its first phase will focus on 10 medicines the NHS currently spends £128m a year on. As well as trying to make rapid savings, NHSCC and NHS England are seeking to draw attention to the fact that, due to the huge financial constraints on the NHS, it is having to limit what it can offer. In an exclusive interview with Health Service Journal (subscription required), Julie Wood, chief executive of NHSCC, said: “We need people to understand that this is about taking difficult relative prioritisation decisions. It’s about saying that in all that [commissioners] have got to do, we can either spend the NHS pound in this way on paracetamol, or we can spend it on something else we need to do in mental health or primary care because we can’t spend the same NHS pound twice.”

Public satisfaction with NHS remains steady despite winter pressures: Public satisfaction with the NHS remained steady during 2016, as 63% of people said they were satisfied with the NHS, a survey published by The King’s Fund has revealed. In the ‘Public satisfaction with the NHS in 2016’ survey, it was also found that of these people, 65% cited the quality of care as the reason for their satisfaction, whilst 59% said it was because the NHS is free at the point of care. Of those who were dissatisfied with the NHS, waiting times were the biggest reason at 54%, with lack of staff and lack of funding standing at 48% and 45% respectively. The results of the survey showed satisfaction rates have levelled off somewhat since last year, when a separate survey called the British Social Attitudes survey found the biggest rise in dissatisfaction with the NHS since 1983. Ruth Robertson, policy fellow at The King’s Fund, said that the survey’s findings demonstrated the high value the British public place on the quality of care provided by the NHS and how much they cherish the availability of a comprehensive service that is free at the point of use. “It’s unsurprising that dissatisfaction with the NHS is mostly driven by waiting times, staff shortages, and underfunding, as the NHS is facing severe financial pressures,” she explained. “These results also show once again that people are much less satisfied with social care services than with the NHS”, she added.

Cambridge University to help solve the NHS crisis with new £40m research centre: Cambridge University will open a “ground-breaking” new centre focusing on improving the NHS, following a major £40m charitable donation, reported Cambridge-News.co.uk. The university will receive the cash over 10 years from the Health Foundation, in the independent charity’s largest single grant to date. The new institute will be based alongside Addenbrooke’s at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and will work on new evidence-based ways of improving healthcare in the UK. It will be led by Mary Dixon-Woods, RAND professor of health services research and Wellcome Trust investigator at Cambridge University, and work with partners including the RAND Europe research institute and Homerton College. It aims to produce practical, high quality learning about how to improve patient care, and will grow capacity in research skills in the NHS, academia and beyond. The Health Foundation said it is making this major investment because it recognises the huge potential for new research to shed light on how sustainable and replicable improvements to the quality of patient care can be made in the NHS more quickly. Chief executive Dr Jennifer Dixon said: “Faster learning and discovery is vital to achieving higher quality health care for patients at a sustainable cost. That is why the Health Foundation is making its biggest single grant to date to help build the field of improvement research. The University of Cambridge and their partners have set out a compelling vision for this ground-breaking improvement research institute – the first of its kind in Europe. This is a significant and exciting step in developing evidence on a massive scale across the NHS about what works to improve patient care.”

Report claims new technology could save NHS billions: A report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers claims that the rollout of mobile and digital technology could have saved the NHS more than £1bn in the last five years, by enabling patients to leave hospital sooner, reported the Clinical Services Journal. The Remote Health Management: Reducing Bed Blocking in the NHS report calls for the Department of Health to create a standardised remote health management network by 2020. This secure digital network would provide acute and social care providers with easy access to patient data and remote monitoring, and allow for the faster discharge of patients from hospital. Caring for patients at a residential care home or at home is at least 70% cheaper than care in hospital and also sees a reduced risk of contracting potentially lethal hospital-acquired infections. Dr Helen Meese, head of healthcare at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “Unnecessary delays to patients being discharged from hospital are a problem for health workers, taxpayers and patients alike. They lead to critical NHS resources being wasted and, often, the distress of patients keen to return home. Technology to monitor patients remotely is a key way they could be safely discharged from hospital earlier. Currently trials of this technology in the NHS have been sorely lacking. The government needs to urgently introduce a secure standardised remote health management network to connect hospitals with social care providers to enable people to live more independent lives and free up much-needed NHS hospital beds.”

No funds for flagship GDEs this financial year: Flagship global digital exemplar (GDE) hospital trusts have finally been notified that they will not receive any of the promised £100m investment this financial year, reported DigitalHealth.net. GDEs had initially been told to expect funding of up to £10m each last November and the delayed start to this programme now raises doubts about whether ambitious roll-out timetables are achievable. NHS England has previously indicated that it expects all GDE hospital trusts to be paperless within just three years. The 16 GDE trusts had been told in September to plan investment based on receiving the first slice of up to £10m each in the current 2016-17 NHS financial year, which ends on 31st March. The prolonged silence on funding has caused growing concerns among GDE leaders, left without the funds to deliver accelerated digital roll-out plans. As a result, some have had to delay or apply the brakes on GDE plans. DigitalHealth.net understands that Sir David Dalton, chief executive of Salford Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, highlighted the difficulties the uncertainty on funding was creating for GDE trusts at an NHS England GDE event. NHS England has subsequently sent letters to GDE trusts in the last few days confirming that there will be no funding this financial year, and stating that funds will now begin in 2017-18. There is as yet no indication as to whether funding will be made available to the expected 20 ‘fast followers’ of the GDE trusts, who had been told to expect £5m each, or the yet to be announced six mental health GDEs, also promised £5m each.

Bolton goes live with OpenEyes open source software: A million-pound open source electronic patient record (EPR) has gone live in a northern NHS trust’s eye department, reported DigitalHealth.net. Bolton NHS Foundation Trust deployed the ophthalmic OpenEyes software in January. David Haider, consultant ophthalmologist and chief clinical information officer at Bolton, told DigitalHealth.net that he was doing a “slow deployment”, with the EPR being used in cataracts first. “Because we’re running from a fairly digitally immature trust, we didn’t want to do anything too fast,” Haider said. He added: the deployment had “not been particularly painful at all”. “I tend to be a little more, I’d say pragmatic, others might say pessimistic, but I was expecting more resistance than I got, actually staff were really positive about it.” The project was funded with £500,000 from the Safer Hospital, Safer Wards Technology Fund, which was matched by the trust. Haider said the money was used to upgrade Bolton’s basic eye care hardware to allow it to handle an EPR. It was also used to adapt and expand the software so that it could be “easily deployed into similar hospitals in the future for a lot less”. For instance, the money was used to build a HL7 messaging function in OpenEyes, he said. Open Eyes was created at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, where it first went live in August 2012 after a £3.5m investment. It has since been deployed across 40 sites in developing Commonwealth countries and by NHS Wales.

£32m world-leading imaging centre to open at Glasgow hospital: The University of Glasgow’s £32m Imaging Centre of Excellence (Ice), which will benefit patients across Scotland and beyond, opened in the city, reported The Courier. Ice brings together world-leading research, cutting edge technology and international business investment under one roof at its home at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus. The centre will act as a hub for translating science into economic and patient benefit for the UK, the university said. The project will bring 396 new high-value jobs to the city over a seven-year period and will contribute £88m to the local economy, according to independent assessment. Built in collaboration with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the medical research facility will be opened by the chief executive-designate of UK Research and Innovation, Professor Sir Mark Walport. Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, vice-principal and head of the college of medical, veterinary and life sciences at the university, said: “Ice will be a world-leading example of a precision medicine centre, bringing together the key partners of the University of Glasgow, the NHS and industry to further clinical research and ultimately bring economic and patient benefits not only for Glasgow, but to the whole of Scotland.”

Hester hits back over TPP patient data security concerns: TPP founder Frank Hester has written to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, arguing restricting his company’s data sharing scheme to address security concerns would be detrimental to patient care, reported DigitalHealth.net. It came as the BMA waded into the increasingly murky debate over who controls access to the GP records of millions of patients. The doctor’s trade union is now calling on the thousands of GPs using TPP’s SystmOne electronic record to “urgently consider any action they need to take”, including switching off the system’s “enhanced data sharing function”. “It has become clear that if patient records are being shared through TPP GPs are unable to specify which other organisations can have access to their patients’ records.” This differs from the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO’s) latest advice that recommends GPs do not switch off SystmOne’s sharing function, despite ongoing data security concerns. SystmOne is used by about a third of GP practices in England and holds the records of millions of patients. Earlier this month, it was revealed that the ICO had “data protection compliance concerns” about SystmOne’s “enhanced data sharing”, which was first introduced in 2012. Some media have reported that it allowed patient records to be viewed by “thousands of strangers” not involved in their care. TPP has disputed these claims, stating that patient’s records cannot be accessed without their permission, except in emergencies.

Sales acceleration

Opinions

EU GDPR: From bureaucratic nightmare to competitive edge
Hospitals and health IT suppliers have been asking what the EU’s new data protection regulations will mean for them, writes Dr. Roshan Vara, clinical strategist at AbedGraham, on LinkedIn.com.

“I have been approached by a range of health IT suppliers including cybersecurity vendors seeking clarification on how patient data can be protected within the European digital market. I see three key consequences for any organisational leader seeking to capitalise on EU GDPR with their solutions portfolio:

“Given that malicious threats in NHS trusts and beyond are on the increase, and stronger EU GDPR penalties for organisations, we are seeing a proactive approach taken by board level decision makers who look to address cybersecurity concerns. Our analysis at AbedGraham indicates that over the next two years there will be a significant rise in interest and investment by procurement departments towards IT solutions that cater for data protection across clinical workflows.

“From a supplier perspective, there is an opportunity for health IT suppliers to drive solution portfolios to address clinical information risk management. However, this means little if you cannot optimise your strategy to align with procurement drivers within health policy landscape (e.g. Caldicott Report). Those who augment their solution, sales and marketing strategies to resonate with complex clinical requirements will get ahead of market competitors. 

“Enhancing an approach to one healthcare region can pave a strategy that is mapped across Europe. As the EU GDPR allows for seamless jurisdiction across country borders, if health IT vendors can demonstrate an existing understanding of clinical information governance within one country, this can be leveraged across all European national health organisations.”

Why checkups shouldn’t only happen in a doctor’s office: protecting data in the healthcare sector
Cyber criminals continue to present a huge threat to healthcare IT, writes Peter Godden, VP of EMEA at Zerto in the Health Technology Newspaper.

“By targeting hospitals zealously with ransomware and pushing victimised organisations to succumb to their demands, hackers quickly acquire mission-critical, personal data,” he said. “In the last quarter of 2016 alone, the healthcare sector accounted for the highest number of data security incidents, with 221 cases reported.

“Patients have become more demanding and engaged. They expect to have access to information online or through a mobile app – which further exposes IT to threats as vulnerabilities enter the internal system through external users of the network.

“Numerous self-inflicted issues affect organisations, including inexperienced staff that accidentally shut down a server, or a program that has been configured incorrectly. One of the more troubling sources of interruptions is the regular and routine software upgrades or patches from vendors, which are sometimes not of the highest quality and very often exceed the capacity to adequately test an environment.

“Non-disruptive DR [disaster recovery] testing is key here. Healthcare organisations need to be experts in the event of an outage, and if precedent is to test the availability of an infrastructure once a year, this may be an unobtainable dream. Frequent testing is very important – each quarter is ideal.

“Without regular, real-time testing, there is no clear insight into the way complex IT systems are working and save mission-critical data from interruption if disaster strikes. This also presents a chance to identify and rectify IT issues which may otherwise go unnoticed.

“Ultimately, the only way to guarantee the availability of patient data and the resilience of IT is through routine check-ups.”

Connectivity and behaviour key to unlocking wireless adoption
It is up to all of us to engage with the potential of personal digital health and demand better connectivity, argues Julia Manning, founding director of 2020health, in National Health Executive.

“There are only two challenges worth talking about that face mobile and wireless technology adoption in the NHS: connectivity and behaviour. All else, the history of NHS IT, lack of understanding, plurality of systems, lack of pathways, evidence base, market, tariffs, big data, apps and wearables are important, but if the technology isn’t connected, and if we haven’t thought through the relevant behaviour changes, the vision for what technology could achieve will remain just that – a vision, not a reality. 

“Connectivity and behaviour overlap, of course. Whilst information remains fragmented, it is harder to create meaning from it, and from that to promote, motivate and capture behaviour change – of professionals or the public. But there is another issue: trust. The explosion of health apps and wearables has been very exciting, but even if they were connected, what can we trust? NHS bodies continue to work on this conundrum.

“There never will be a fail-safe approach, as daily adverse reactions to clinically-approved medicines demonstrate, but we happily prescribe them every day. Most apps have not been through clinical trials, but confidence is beginning to appear. A recent freedom of information request by the University of Sheffield showed that 13 web apps and 35 mobile apps for mental illnesses are already being recommended by professionals in NHS mental health trusts. It is up to all of us to engage with the potential of personal digital health and demand better connectivity; meanwhile, let’s start educating our professionals and children with these fabulous new tools.”

Highland Marketing news

This week we announced our partnership with AbedGraham, a clinically led IT consultancy. Working together, we aim to help boost clinical engagement and accelerate the adoption of health IT and promote the benefits that it can deliver.

Highland Marketing blog

Communication essential to providing better healthcare services
Listening to people is one of the most important aspects of the communication process; acting on what they say is equally essential, writes our CEO Mark Venables. This is why Highland Marketing have entered into a partnership with clinically-based health IT consultancy AbedGraham. It’s because we have listened to the market, and understand the importance of embracing clinical views with health IT adoption.

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