These three words can transform healthcare

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The recent publication of the Fuller Stocktake report sets out a new vision for the role of primary care in integrated care systems. Digital technology has a supportive role to play in realising the publication’s future vision.

As we head into 2022, the enormous challenges we face are all too clear – waiting lists at an all-time high, thousands struggling to get support for mental health conditions, inequalities starkly exposed by two years that have seen healthcare staff stretched to the limit.

And for too many patients, accessing an over-stretched primary care system feels like negotiating a maze, blocked at every turn by an opaque triage system or a phone that’s always engaged.

Finding solutions to these challenges is what drives me, so I want to explore three words that I believe will help us transform healthcare: scale, technology and data. While there are no silver bullets in healthcare, these three elements, combined effectively, are the closest thing we have. Let’s start with scale.

It’s no secret that some see digital GP services as a temporary solution to a temporary problem, and now it’s time to get back to the doctor’s waiting room. But this is not the story I’m seeing. More than six million people have access to Livi’s GP video service through NHS partnerships. In a few months, that will double to 12 million. As the only digital provider with an Outstanding CQC rating, every one of these patients can be sure they are getting the best quality care.

Patients like Amanda, who lives with the complex rare disease scleroderma. Right now, fast access to a GP provides the security and reassurance Amanda needs, but our technology will soon be able to match Amanda, and many others living with long term conditions, to the clinician with the most appropriate skillset. In Sweden analysis of our patient’s data has shown that our algorithmic patient matching tools reduce avoidable hospitalisations by 20%. With this technology rolled out at scale, there is so much more we could do.

But right now we have innovations closer to home. This month Mjog by Livi became the first messaging service to be integrated with the NHS App.

Currently in its pilot phase, this integration means patients can receive messages from their GP directly in the NHS App. This will make patient communication safer, thwarting the scammers who targeted people with fake messages during the pandemic, and will open the door to powerful population-level health interventions. With Mjog already used by 70% of practices, we hope soon to be helping the 22 million NHS App users communicate securely with their GP.

We also launched Mjog’s remote monitoring service, allowing GPs to send patient surveys to monitor conditions such as asthma, anxiety and depression. With data coded securely to patient records, those who need help can be identified faster, and quickly access the support they need. It is easy to see how this technology could power population level campaigns for smoking cessation or weight loss, with patients accessing high-quality support directly in the NHS App. This is scale, technology and data in action.

As the immediate threat of the pandemic recedes, we must resist returning to the old way of doing things, entrenching health inequalities and squandering the innovations born of necessity. With these three words, I believe we can begin to meet the challenges and support the NHS to emerge stronger.

Juliet Bauer, Managing Director, Livi