How many of us these days rely on smartphone technology to keep track and manage our everyday lives? Whether it’s downloading apps to help us manage our work commitments from calendaring to emails, or keeping in touch with friends and family through social media apps, or simply accessing games online to amuse the children when out and about – many of us our turning to technology to keep track of our day-today affairs for work and pleasure.
How many of us though use technology to manage our health? With the government now committed to transforming the way the health service is managed, we might just see the day when health-related apps become very much part of our everyday healthcare regime.
Speaking recently at the NICON conference on ‘Transforming Your Care – the Review of Health and Social Care’, The Minister for Health, Mr Poots gave a stark warning that the Health Service in Northern Ireland needed to undergo a planned and managed change programme over the next five years.
As he outlined his vision, Minister Poots highlighted that due to Northern Ireland’s fast growing population; the way healthcare is managed would have to change significantly over the next five years, saying: “There will be a significant shift from provision of services in hospitals to provision of services closer to home; in the community and/or GP surgeries, where it is safe and effective to do so”.
The Minister also alluded to the health services needing to make more and better use of technology in managing the delivery of these services. With an increasing population using smartphone technology to manage their everyday life, the Minister suggested that, “There is an opportunity for greater use of technology to support the delivery of services…We must capitalise on this and exploit other opportunities where technology can support the delivery of effective services.”
His sentiments echoed that of the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, when last year he launched the Maps and Apps competition to find the most innovative and popular apps for managing health, saying:
“I want to make using apps to track blood pressure, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm.
“Innovation and technology can revolutionise the health service, and we are looking at how the NHS can use these apps for the benefit of patients, including how GPs could offer them for free.”
Undoubtedly technology will continue to transform the way we live our lives and with the vision set out by UK government and Northern Ireland health department alike, for many of us, it will be a transformation in how we manage our health as well.
- The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Edwin Poots MLA, announced a review of Health and Social Care Services in Northern Ireland in June 2011.
The review ‘Transforming Your Care, the Review of Health and Social Care’ can be accessed through the following link http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/hscreview131211.htm
- Launched by the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, on 22nd August 2010, Maps and Apps was a six week competition to find and subsequently showcase the most popular apps for health.