Digital health could save public health services £7.5bn across England, research suggests

Public health services in England could save up to £7.5 billion if digital health is adopted across England, according to research by Now Healthcare Group (NHG).

The research has highlighted that the use of telehealth and digital consultations obviated the need for an NHS GP appointment in 56% of cases and a hospital appointment in 3% of cases if digital health via app-based tech was rolled out across the population. The results were gathered from data obtained from NHGs first few years of operations on patients, public health services and private client’s responses.

Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Healthcare Group said: “This report explores and quantifies the benefits that such an approach to primary care offers to patients, public health services and society. The ultimate conclusions show that adoption of digital solutions can have a significant positive impact on GP pressure, medicine adherence and medicine wastage.”

The report assesses the impact of digital technology on patient outcomes, medicine adherence and the reduction of pressure on public health services and private employers. The figures are based on live Now Healthcare data combined with publicly available NHS and academic sources highlighted:

  • £2.2bn potential annual savings through redirecting patients via app-based tech to non-GP consultations.
  • £240m of potential productivity benefit in adoption of digital tech amongst private employers – preventing 600 days of workplace absence per 1000,00 people.
  • 27% of consultations via the app, did not need to be handled by a GP and 41% could have been handed by another healthcare professional such as a pharmacist or nurse – highlighting that if an effective pre-triage function was set up within a telehealth app, patient pressure on GPs could be reduced by up to 73%.
  • 80% of NHG’s patients surveyed said that if the digital platform was not available to them, they would have attended their NHS GP surgery.
  • 31% of possible items ordered when patients using app-based tech to manage their medication – reducing waste and delivering potential cost savings, when using tech.
  • Usage of adherence technology improved the probability of patients sticking to their medication schedule by 41%.

The findings come on the back of the NHS Long Term Plan and Topol Review which both target and report on the possible use of more digital technologies within the NHS.

The results also follow the recent news that more than 20,000 physios, pharmacists and paramedics are to be recruited in England to work alongside GPs.

Lee Dentith, CEO and founder of Now Healthcare Group said: “It is clear from this report that digital technology has huge potential to improve efficiencies across public health services whilst simultaneously enhancing outcomes for patients. With smartphone penetration rates approaching 90% of the UK population, the concept of putting control, literally, in the hand of the patient has clearly come of age.”

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