Today at the NHS England conference ‘Empowering People in a Digital World’, Matt Hancock highlighted his frustration at outdated technology in the NHS holding back both staff and patients. The health secretary believes we need to embrace 20th century technology before we can move to 21st, - starting with email and that all hospital communication should take place online by 2021. He stated "The rest of the world runs on email, and the NHS should too."
Here at DrDoctor, we're naturally huge advocates of digital solutions as a means of improving care - so long as privacy and security are factored into the design.
We enable hospitals to send out clinic appointment confirmations and reminders by email and text message. Text messages are more private as they are only accessible on the device owning that contact number.
We also provide patients with a patient portal. This is an online dashboard where patients can log in using two factor authentication to view any hospital communication at any time they choose to. To achieve top-level data security, we employ text messages and email to notify patients they have a letter. The patient then logs in the DrDoctor platform to view that letter. These steps are easy to take in practice and exist to protect and safeguard sensitive patient data.
Matt Hancock’s thoughts resonate with us as we exist to help the NHS take steps into the digital future. We believe an email is like a postcard (but not like a letter), it can be vulnerable and exposed as it may have to travel through multiple systems before reaching its destination. We feel sending patient emails is theoretically a step in the right direction, but practically it raises a whole host of issues. A question exists around the stability and security of data within email. This is why we use a combination of an online platform and mobile communication to deliver important messages between hospitals and patients.
We believe that digitising patient letters is key to reducing cost and saving time for hospitals. Better healthcare can be delivered via digital channels and unnecessary admin should be streamlined so that patients can be seen and cared for quicker and easier.