NHS England susses out pervasive WiFi with eye on wearables in clinical settings

By Aditi Pai
10:43 am
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Tim KelseyNHS England and the National Information Board (NIB) have announced that they will consider equipping all NHS facilities in England with free WiFi.

The NIB was created by the Department of Health to develop initiatives that use data and technology in healthcare. It is chaired by NHS England National Director for Patients and Information Tim Kelsey.

NHS England explains that offering free WiFi in the health system's facilities would reduce the administrative burden on doctors, nurses, and care staff. Administrative duties occupy, at most, 70 percent of a junior doctor’s day, NHS England explains.

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Other benefits of the free WiFi, NHS explains, include using wearable devices in the hospital to monitor patients.

"For example, over a fifth of patients with diabetes will have experienced a largely avoidable hypoglycemic episode whilst in hospital," NHS England wrote. "This technology can help patients and their doctors identify problems early." 

The health system also explained its other plans to digitize various aspects of the healthcare system.

“The NHS is embracing the offering of digital services to patients, with more than 55 million patients set to benefit from progress," Kelsey said. “As well as giving patients more choice and control, better use of technology can save money. Letting people rebook online will help tackle the estimated £160 million that missed appointments cost the NHS each year.”

In the past year, 97 percent of general practitioner practices offered patients the option to book appointments, order prescriptions, and view a summary of their records online. NHS England plans to give patients full access to their entire digital health record by 2018.

Currently, a third of all ambulances share their records digitally with accident and emergency doctors. The new proposals suggest that, by 2018, doctors and nurses across England will be able to access data for primary, urgent, and emergency care services. And by 2020, these providers will also be able to access data for NHS funded services.

Another initiative, based on the success of NHS England's MyNHS, which offers patients performance data on health services, aims to expand the offering to include performance data on NHS commissioners and care homes. The site has attracted more than 200,000 visits since it was launched in September 2014.

And to support NHS England's National diabetes prevention program, the organization is launching a new online library of NHS approved digital tools, resources, and apps to help them monitor their health. NHS England explained that this launch follows the successful launch of the health system's mental health apps library on NHS Choices, which is a health information website, in March. The library has seen more than 47,000 hits since its launch.

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