Report claims new technology could save NHS billions

A report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers claims that the rollout of mobile and digital technology could have saved the NHS more than £1 billion in the last five years, by enabling patients to leave hospital sooner.

The Remote Health Management: Reducing Bed Blocking in the NHS report calls for the Department of Health to create a standardised Remote Health Management network by 2020. This secure digital network would provide acute and social care providers with easy access to patient data and remote monitoring, and allow for the faster discharge of patients from hospital.

Caring for patients at a residential care home or at home is at least 70% cheaper than care in hospital and also sees a reduced risk of contracting potentially lethal hospital-acquired infections.

Dr Helen Meese, head of healthcare at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “Unnecessary delays to patients being discharged from hospital are a problem for health workers, taxpayers and patients alike. They lead to critical NHS resources being wasted and, often, the distress of patients keen to return home.

“Technology to monitor patients remotely is a key way they could be safely discharged from hospital earlier. Currently trials of this technology in the NHS have been sorely lacking.

“Government needs to urgently introduce a secure standardised Remote Health Management network to connect hospitals with social care providers to enable people to live more independent lives and free up much-needed NHS hospital beds. Government should also look to ring-fence some of the £20-£30 million from the Accelerated Access Review to develop these technologies further to ensure they achieve their full potential.”

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