The NHS is groaning, almost audibly, under the strain of ever-tightening budgets and growing healthcare demand from an increasingly elderly population.
Generations live longer, and with that inevitably comes chronic diseases that need quick diagnosis, regular monitoring and management.
In order to tackle this burgeoning challenge, it’s clear we need a new model of treatment which doesn’t place an extra burden on healthcare institutions which are already bursting at the seams.
According to a global study by Hewlett Packard published earlier this year, around 85 per cent of companies will have adopted some form of Internet of Things (IoT) technology by 2019.
Smart tech is revolutionising the way we approach manufacturing, distribution and the overall customer experience.
Against the backdrop of this seismic technological shift, it’s inevitable that the future healthcare landscape will look drastically different to the one we recognise today.
Key to this will be an increased focus on data collection and reporting, where users will be able to harness technology to benefit from more flexible and connected healthcare.
Mobile’s potential to transform and enable Point of Care Testing (POCT) is one notable example. Monitoring more patients from the comfort of their own home is a key priority for the NHS and health services around the world.
Devices which would grant doctors, nurses and care staff with the accessibility and capability to diagnose patients remotely, would be ground-breaking.
However, POCT has long been heralded as a major development in healthcare to enhance the patient experience, accelerate diagnostic decisions and open new market opportunities for diagnostic companies.
In reality however, it never got beyond laboratory use.
The challenges in using, interpreting and reporting the data often devalue the benefits that the test may bring and these issues are particularly evident during in-field testing.
In contrast to the challenges associated with adoption of POCT, more than 2.6 billion smartphones are now in use globally according to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report.
Mobile’s ease-of-use and connected capability opens up a world of opportunity for businesses across a variety of sectors and geographies.
This is increasingly relevant for the healthcare sector, where mobile apps and technology have huge potential to transform the way we deliver diagnosis and healthcare management.
The convergence of these two technologies unlocks the potential for a mDiagnostics revolution where an intuitive user-interface and the inherent connectivity which is characteristic of today’s smartphone can overcome the limiting factors of many POCT.
The benefits of smart mobile technology mean that diagnosis can now be delivered via a mobile eco-system where patients harness mobile test reader technology to share accurate diagnostic results with healthcare professionals digitally.
This type of approach presents new avenues for patient care through provision of lab quality results using nothing more than a smartphone.
Smartphone enabled medical eco-systems that empower patients to manage their conditions in a connected environment, is the next step on this journey.
It’s also one, I believe, which has real potential to transform the way we approach diagnosis and treatment.