Widespread adoption of digital health could save NHS 7.5bn

Research by Now Healthcare Group indicates huge savings through use of telehealth/digital consultations

Digital consultations have the potential to save billions and improve the patient experience

More than half of all GP appointments, and 3% of hospital appointments were freed up during a trial of telehealth and digital consultations.

Results of research conducted by Now Healthcare Group (NHG) have been revealed in a White Paper, which suggests that, if digital health services delivered via app-based technology were rolled out across the population, it could potentially save £7.5billion on public health services in England.

It is clear from this report that digital technology has huge potential to improve efficiencies across public health services while simultaneously enhancing outcomes for patients

The report quantifies the impact of digital technology on patient outcomes, medicine adherence, and the reduction of pressure on public health services and private employers.

The findings highlighted:

  • £2.2billion potential savings every year through redirecting patients via app-based tech to non-GP consultations (i.e. nurse or pharmacist)
  • £240m of potential productivity benefit (UK worth) in adoption of digital tech among 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 (in 2010 shown to be at £300m), when using tech
  • Usage of adherence technology improved the probability of patients sticking to their medication schedule by 41%

The findings fall in line the NHS Long-term Plan to evolve and meet the changing needs of the patient, ensuring that pressure on GPs does not affect their ability to provide the best care and that digital innovation enhance the efficiency of primary care delivery.

The ultimate conclusions show that adoption of digital solutions can have a significant positive impact on GP pressure, medicine adherence and medicine wastage

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”

Chief executive, Lee Dentith, added: “It is clear from this report that digital technology has huge potential to improve efficiencies across public health services while 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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