Doctor on computer

Digital communication key to empowering NHS patients and staff

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Monday, August 12, 2013 - 09:13 GMT Jump to Comments

The NHS is rapidly initiating new methods of connectivity and communication into its service. Called the 'Channel Shift', these new systems and practices are set to revolutionise UK public healthcare.

Dr Theodoros N. Arvanitis, reader in Biomedical Informatics, Signals and Systems at the School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering at Birmingham University is a key figure in the research and development of Health Informatics and digital health systems.

In an exclusive interview with The Information Daily, he explained some of the concepts that are currently being implemented within healthcare today. "In the case of healthcare informatics, its about the use of information in an innovative way to understand and promote better healthcare and wellbeing", he said.

With recent advances in technology and its mass adoption, society has changed the way it interacts. In order for public services to be effective and relevant, they must adapt to changes in the way we communicate. The prevalence of people using the internet as a tool to get information is something health services can utilise very effectively, if they have well designed and executed systems and channels with which to communicate with the public. Dr Arvanitis described the changes, "One of the very interesting advances we have seen recently is the concept of connectivity of healthcare information at the level of primary care. Mobile phone or smart phones could be used by patients to report their own outcomes of their disease."

The benefits of such a system are obvious. If information can be analysed to develop strategies to treat conditions and diseases, the delivery of healthcare can be constantly adapted to best serve the needs of its patients. Information will flow both ways between patients and healthcare professionals, enabling a more efficient healthcare service leading to better care and experiences for its patients. With all the political pressures being placed upon the NHS to be more cost efficient, integrating digital and technological solutions will almost certainly be used to make the NHS more cost effective without compromising quality of care.

Dr Arvanitis concluded, "In my view, the most important aim is to enable healthcare professionals to do their job better. So, allowing them to connect and communicate better regarding evidence and best practices. But the most important area is empowering the patient to become the centre of their health and well-being by participating in the whole process of healthcare".

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