Thousands in England are suffering from undiagnosed breathing conditions according to Asthma + Lung UK as health service remains overwhelmed.
The undiagnosed conditions could lead to overcrowding in the NHS as the winter sets in.
Digital reform of the NHS should be a priority, experts say, to avoid winter crisis.
Thousands in England are suffering undiagnosed breathing problems due to the lack of basic lung function testing, according to a recent Asthma + Lung UK report[i]. GPs are increasingly overwhelmed and unable or unwilling to perform lung function testing.
With the NHS facing yet another winter of increased activity, staff shortages, emergency department overcrowding, and overwhelmed GP services, the levels of undiagnosed respiratory conditions will only see this situation become a much bigger crisis.
Dr Bipin Patel is a leading health tech innovator who has spent many years researching the causes of overcrowding in Emergency Departments alongside leading clinical collaborators in the UK and across the globe and believes the answer lies with the patient.
"Emergency Department overcrowding has been an issue in health services across the globe for decades. Inefficiencies within the NHS have been some of the causes, but reducing ED visits and regular appointments could often be avoided if we offered more support, education, and control for the patient. Breathing problems are the perfect example. If we can allow the patient to monitor, understand and record some of their key metrics themselves, with the ability to provide that data to a GP, consultant or specialist, it would dramatically reduce footfall and repeat appointments to allow the professionals to deal with emergencies and focus on growing waiting lists."
Dr Patel's company, Cambridge-based electronRx, has developed a mobile device technology that records key respiratory metrics from the user's body using existing technology within the phone and records the data securely in the cloud for a GP or specialist to access. Dr Patel believes this technology could be the future for breathing condition testing.
"If GPs are so overwhelmed that they cannot do the basic respiratory testing, then this technology puts it into the hands of the patient. Once installed in the patient's phone - via a link sent from a GP or specialist - our technology allows the patient to regularly test their respiration rate and various other metrics simply using the camera on their phone. The data will be immediately stored and available for review by the healthcare professional. Not only does this prevent the need for the patient to visit, but it becomes a tool to monitor the patient's ongoing condition regularly. As the NHS looks to digitise services, patient condition awareness and management will need to be a top priority to reduce the impacts it faces daily."
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