To cut costs and improve patient care, the NHS is looking to technology more than ever before. Under its latest proposals, Britain's healthcare service wants to introduce free wi-fi across all of its hospitals, giving doctors and nurses the ability to use tablets on the wards. The hope is that this will reduce paper waste and speed up administrative tasks, giving staff some extra time to visit their patients. It also opens up the possibility for patients to wear wearables, such as skin sensors. Patients with diabetes, for instance, could then be monitored around the clock to help doctors spot early signs of deterioration.
Last November, the NHS promised to give Brits online access to their GP records by 2015. The roll-out is now underway and today, the NHS is committing to an expansion that will add records held by hospitals, community, mental health and social care services by 2018. NHS England's National Director for Patients and Information, Tim Kelsey, promises that "soon" every citizen will also be able to register for a GP, book appointments and order prescriptions through nhs.uk. In addition, the NHS wants doctors and nurses to have digital access to critical medical information anywhere in England by 2018. The scheme would then be expanded to include information from all NHS funded services by 2020.
If nothing else, these proposals represent a shift in how the NHS wants to operate. It's not known for its speedy adoption of new technologies, but upper management seems to have realised that to keep services running smoothly, the NHS needs to change its tune.
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