Here in the UK, the NHS is something we all pride ourselves on. The National Health Service ensures that anyone living in the UK can get free access to medical assistance should they require it.
But, over the last few years, the NHS has been facing a form of crisis with rising waiting times, an increased number of patients and a decreasing number of staff members. Recently, it was reported that nine in 10 NHS bosses believed that a staffing crisis was affecting patients.
With an increasingly ageing population, who will no doubt be affected, could advances in healthcare IT be one of the solutions the elderly need when it comes to the NHS?
The ageing population
When looked at, the ageing population of those aged 80 and over within the UK stood at more than three million people. This should come as no surprise, as it’s regularly reported that as a society we are now living much longer than ever before.
While this figure may seem huge, it’s only expected to grow as the years go on. By 2030 it’s estimated that the figure could double to close to six million before hitting the eight million mark by 2050.
Alongside this, those aged 65 and over currently stands at one in every six people in the UK. This is expected to increase to one in four by 2050.
As these numbers continue to increase, new challenges are being faced in the world of healthcare.
We all know that the older we get, there’s an increased chance of us needing medical help. And, as mentioned above, many that work within the NHS believe that the staffing crisis is going to negatively impact upon patients.
Recently, it was voted on for doctors to end home visits to elderly patients. And, with many elderly people depending on these visits, as they can’t get to a GP or hospital, it’s easy to see that older patients will be severely affected, and, with the increasing number of elderly people it will only get worse.
When we move into hospitals, the shortage of staff is also resulting in burn out for many nurses, while overcrowding is also becoming a problem, especially with the rising numbers of elderly people – so, how can IT help?
How digital can help
Creating patient-driven care, the NHS drastically needs an IT overhaul, where the introduction of smart technology will surely help them to tend to the ever-growing list of patients, and elderly patients in particular.
Helping to contextualise data, so that any doctor can access patient files wherever they are, rather than waiting will help to streamline processes. Meanwhile, this access to information will also allow them to establish the most effective form of treatment instantly rather than having to use guesswork.
Also, with more and more people being digitally adept, systems could allow for patients to engage from their home via technology in a way they never have before – helping with overcrowding, waiting times and lack of home visits.
Yes, there is a crisis for both the NHS and with the ageing population, but like with everything else, new and improved technology could be the answer.