White paper estimates NHS could save over £7 billion per year through digital technology
Telehealth provider Now Healthcare Group (NHG) has produced a new white paper which looks at the impact of digital technology on patient outcomes and the reduction of pressure on the NHS.
The figures within the paper – ‘The impact of telehealth and telepharmacy technology on public health service pressure and patient outcomes’ – are based on live NHG data combined with publicly available NHS and academic sources.
Telehealth consultation results
NHG’s telehealth platform enables users to receive a remote digital consultation via their mobile device. The idea is to remove the need for physical appointments at NHS facilities.
Users are connected to a central booking system and can select their doctor based on various criteria, including gender, language and availability. The platform also allows patients to be referred to specialists, order private prescriptions, collect their prescriptions from their local pharmacy and more.
Through asking NHG app users about alternative healthcare solutions, whether their medical query was solved through the alternative option, how many people are willing to use digital health technology, and how much appointments cost through the NHS, Now Healthcare Group predicted that the NHS could save £7.5 billion annually through the use of telehealth.
In addition to calculating potential NHS savings through reduced appointment demand, NHG also considered savings that could be made through the redirection of patient issues.
NHG’s clinical staff analysed 2,563 telehealth consultations to determine whether the patient actually needed to speak to a GP or whether their issue could have been handled by a different clinician, such as a pharmacist or prescribing nurse.
The results showed that of the 27 percent of patients who needed to see a GP, 32 percent could have been seen by a prescribing nurse and 41 percent could have been handled by a pharmacist.
According to NHG, the implications of this research are that, if an effective pre-triage function were set up within a telehealth app, patient pressure on GPs could be reduced by up to 73 percent.
Based on the latest estimate of 300 million GP appointments and NHG averages of appointment cost per pathway, the white paper proposes that around £2.2 billion could be saved if a redirection programme were successfully implemented across England.
NHG concludes that digital technology has massive potential to ease pressure off the NHS as well as improve outcomes for patients. With the use of smartphones across the UK continually increase, the concept of digital healthcare is becoming more and more prominent.