This is the speech i made during the vital debate about how the NHS will be funded in the future.
It was a very interesting two hours and very special to listen to the expertise in the chamber.
“I come at this debate from a very personal and a professional angle and particularly thank lord patel for instigating it.
firstly, the personal – I am a long term patient whose life was saved by the orthapaedic department in the john radcliffe in oxford and who therefore owes her life to a properly funded nhs.
I am also someone who fervently believes in harnessing the power of technology to improve public services – it is through its more effective deployment that will we provide world class healthcare in the future at a dramatically lower cost.
I am not talking about expensive and costly top down nhs IT projects but instead about better use of data, open standards, more agile development and a more digitally minded culture in our healthcare sector. I would like to give some examples –
This era is often called the age of big data – we now have the ability to aggregate the information gathered from a mass of different sources. This analysis ofdata is changing the way we work and live – the government already has a longstanding commitment to opening up its own data and encouraging its use. It produced a white paper in june on its open data roadmap and launched data.gov.uk so that anyone could access its datasets.
However we are only at the very beginning of the journey – a wonderful project to have come out of the open data institute illustrates why. In 2011-12 the NHS in England shelled out more than £400m on statins out of a total drug budget of £12.7 billion.
In collaboration with Mastodon C, Open Health Care UK (a start-up founded by a doctor and a programmer) examined a vast open data set: the prescriptions written by every family doctor in England. They looked at regional patterns in the prescription of statins, The researchers estimatedthat, had every doctor prescribed white label as opposed to branded statins, the drugs bill would have been more than £200m lower. The variation is remarkable—imagine the potential savings if the exercise was repeated for other classes of drugs.
As the economist recently wrote “A study in theBritish Medical Journal in 2010 reckoned that the NHS could save more than £1 billion by switching from branded drugs to generic equivalents.” The new analysis backs up that claim. Smart use of more datasets will fuel many improvements – as long as interoperability of systems is central to improvements.
Secondly, as 80% of the nhs costs come from the 20% of the population with chronic conditions, it is going to be essential to focus resources on how to help them manage their lives more independently – I believe this will be done by innovation in how care is developed. There is growing evidence that many health issues can be significantly reduced through the use of online tools and there are already many compelling case studies. Mindfull, launched just last week, is a website that helps young people with mental heath issues share stories seek confidential help and find cbt techniques to improve their lives. Similarly, Big white wall is a social enterprise focused on supporting mental health patients. HealthUnlocked, a London-based start-up works with patient groups to give a million people a month information and support when managing long term illnesses such as diabetes and obesity.
In the 3million lives web site The Department of Health (DH) believes that at least three million people with long term conditions and/or social care needs could benefit from the use of telehealth and telecare services. Implemented effectively as part of a whole system redesign of care, telehealth andtelecare can alleviate pressure on long term NHS costs and improve people’s quality of life through better self-care in the home setting.
Over 70% of us look on the web before we go to the doctor and every day millions of people are using health apps on their mobile phones, logging into websites to find out health information and chatting to other people with similar conditions in online forums. New technologies such as Up or jawbone or Nike fuel band allow people to gather their own data and make better lifestyle choices and therefore prevent health issues.
It is vital the nhs is able to deliver services of the same quality as citizens find on the web and on their smartphones or we will be danger of undermining our valued public services. This will require a cultural change within the sector so that all the people working with patients are able to provide high quality relevant and modern care and connect with the innovations that could help patients.
While I spent two years in hospitals rebuilding my body I met some of the most remarkable people – from doctors to nurses to healthcare assistants but even then there was a gap between the technical advances in the commercial sector and what I observed in hospitals. All staff should be helped to be digitally literate and the internet must be put at the heart of design of services, surgeries and hospitals. On this the 65th anniversary of the nhs – surely one of the greatest innovations in the uk’s history, I believe it is imperative to be even more imaginative in how we incorporate another of the uk’s great inventions – the web into its future – this will help us to meet the future funding challenges.”