Breathing Space: Asthma & The NHS
August 14th, 2023
Asthma accounts for 5,000 NHS Emergency Department visits every month, with a dramatic 149% increase in admission for children, costing the NHS more than £3bn in 2022.
The poor management of life long and critical illnesses is an increasing drain on the resources of the health service. For the NHS to achieve its long-term plan, which does contain a digital strategy, digitisation must be one its earliest priorities.
Asthma and the NHS
With overcrowding in EDs, and the ongoing morning race for GP appointments, it is fair to assume the rising Asthma admission numbers are putting additional and unnecessary pressures on the NHS. Whilst promising, the long term plan for the NHS does not fix the issues faced right now. The next 12 months will be critical to cut the red tape and bureaucracy and get the necessary infrastructure in place to begin the digitisation process.
Many NHS admissions to EDs relating to Asthma result in no further intervention. In fact, in many cases, symptoms will have alleviated by the time they see a nurse of a doctor, and they are subsequently discharged. The NHS resources used and the impact on overcrowding are unnecessary, and with a stronger emphasis on patient education and understanding in managing their conditions, could be avoided.
Asthma presents in many ways, but in almost all cases is exasperated by anxiety and concern in the patient, and in the case of children, the parent. These concerns or anxieties can be reduced or removed, simply by providing the patient with the tools that they need, and what better way to do this that from their mobile device.
During the pandemic, NHS Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership searched for an solution to support remote, high-risk patients using external sources to educate, support, review and manage their Asthma; you can see the activity summary from NHS England - Transformation Directorate here.
The introduction of third-party tool, myAsthma, a digital solution that provides education and self-assessment tools for the patient proved that the digitisation of healthcare services in the NHS should be its priority. During the activity, 1,300 patients registered, nearly 500 Asthma control tests were entered, and educational videos were watched over 800 times.
This study was a success for the NHS. It provided a fascinating insight into how healthcare in the community, and introducing the use of contemporary technology, is the answer to getting a grip of issues being faced by the NHS and the wider healthcare sector.
Data and Insight
Short term trials, such as the myAsthma service, are opening the eyes of the management at NHS England to the possibilities of contemporary technologies. The shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, wrote recently that the ‘NHS should be leading the tech revolution not stuck in the analogue age’ and many medical professionals agree. As mentioned previously, the next 12 months will be pivotal in taking the first steps to ensure an NHS that is future-proofed and prepared for a growing, and aging population.
Whilst we know NHS bureaucracy will prevent immediate integration, there is no doubt that the private healthcare sector will take the lead and adopt what is sure to be the future of condition management in the UK and across the globe.
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