Our future health is often wreathed in gloomy predictions of spiralling chronic illness, evaporating health funds and clinicians struggling to cope. This is exacerbated by 40 per cent of UK patients saying they are not actively managing their health, according to the Future Health Index, an international report commissioned by Philips.
This is underscored by 78 per cent of UK healthcare professionals agreeing that their patients need to take a more active role in managing their health. The challenges are lining up with the UK’s ageing population, but technological evolution is now providing hard evidence that it can save our health.
Devices, from lifestyle wearables to home monitoring for complex conditions, have graduated from desirables to essentials in healthcare, backed by strong study outcomes.
The need for effective and easy-to-use technology is acute. By 2039, some 29.5 per cent of the population will be over 60 (up from 23.2 per cent now) and one in 12 people will be aged 80 or more and the NHS, with no real prospect of a significant funding boost, already deals with more than one million patients every 36 hours.
Philips, which is at the forefront of healthcare innovation and backed by a powerful heritage and wealth of experience, recognises that leading-edge technology must operate easily at the coal face of health to promote better outcomes and access of care for patients and more confident decision support for clinicians.
Philips is confident that the prospect of living longer does not need to be shackled with the deadweight of chronic conditions. Its goal is to make the world healthier by improving the lives of three billion people a year by 2025 and helping empower the public to take control of their health. The facts back up the aspiration, with 275 million people worldwide tracked by Philips patient monitors in 2014 and one million monitored daily in their homes, aiding sleep and respiratory problems, heart failure and diabetes.
“There is a great deal of optimism about the potential from technology,” says Rupert Hipwell, strategic business manager at Philips UK and Ireland. “It is about managing people more pro-actively rather than the current NHS process of responding in an episodic way.
“The NHS is very good at championing and replicating good practice across areas, but it has been less good at adopting technology to change how it works. The challenge is to make the benefits of connected healthcare easy for clinicians to use and provide the evidence that convinces them it will help how they work and improve outcomes for patients.”
Philips has a range of technology and initiatives that have been proven to tackle chronic conditions and deliver more control to the patient. A supported self-care scheme aimed at patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure and diabetes in Liverpool has been a resounding success with reductions in emergency admissions and secondary care costs ranging from 22 per cent to 32 per cent. Emergency admissions cost the NHS £1.42 billion in 2012 and studies report that 16 per cent of them are avoidable. Significantly, 90 per cent of patients reported that they felt more in control and had more confidence to cope with their conditions.
The Liverpool results are strategic because it has a health profile that crystalises modern health demands – 30 per cent of Liverpudlians live with one or more long-term conditions, more than half of adults are overweight or obese, and 86 per cent of people are not active enough to maintain good health.
Philips, working in conjunction with the Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, developed a programme to deliver skills and knowledge to patients and used technology to guide them to better health. Patients use a tablet or TV set-top box which is wirelessly connected to scales, blood-pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters. Patients also receive a schedule of videos, follow-up questions and daily or weekly questionnaires to strengthen their understanding and engagement.
“The technology allows patients to monitor their own vital signs as well as having the device send results to clinicians,” added Mr Hipwell. “Prevention is the Holy Grail and, while not underestimating the advancing health challenges, we need to empower patients to stop conditions progressing.
“The role of industry and companies like Philips is important because we are the world leader in patient-monitoring and have years of experience in wearable measurement devices and sensors. We understand the power of information to improve health habits and health outcomes. For years we have helped chronically ill patients to manage their health. Now we’re taking that experience and expertise and we’re applying it to help people in trying to manage their health habits to maintain their health.”
Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, rallied the health service and expertise earlier this year, saying: “Now, at a time when the NHS is under pressure, rather than just running harder to stand still, it’s time to grab with both hands these practical new treatments and technologies.”
This is one of the most exciting times in healthcare history. We can bring together proven medical practice and emerging technologies to address the most pressing health challenges
Philips is also collaborating with Lancaster University in an Innovation Alliance scheme to elevate the health potential for 1.4 million people in Lancashire and Cumbria.
The King’s Fund, the influential charity working to improve health and care, has been championing innovative ways of delivering high-quality healthcare through its Time to Think Differently programme that was designed to stimulate debate over the future of health. It’s The Future is Now report, compiled over two years of research, advocated changes across health provision, encouraging the public and healthcare professionals to embrace new approaches and stated: “New technology will undoubtedly change the way we approach health and care – it already is.”
More than 90 per cent of healthcare professionals believe that an integrated health system in the UK will positively benefit the population with 77 per cent agreeing it can can improve the public’s health when it is used for preventing medical conditions from forming.
“This is one of the most exciting times in healthcare history. We can bring together proven medical practice and emerging technologies to address the most pressing health challenges,” says Neil Mesher, chief executive at Philips UK and Ireland. “But we need people to realise that everyone has a role to play in helping to relieve the enormous burden facing the NHS and that means taking better care of ourselves.”
To read the Future Health Index report in its entirety, and to access local market data in-depth, please visit: www.futurehealthindex.com