It is estimated that around 10% of the NHS budget is spent on the treatment of diabetes*. Management of the disease cost the UK £13.8 billion in 2012**, with soaring in-patient costs - driven by the treatment of diabetes complications - a key contributor.
In an austere environment where the NHS is being challenged to improve quality whilst delivering efficiency, investment in technology can help the health services meet its short and long term goals. The UK government's NHS Information Strategy has outlined how the secure, timely and accurate sharing of information could help transform the healthcare model and empower clinicians and patients to make the most effective decisions about their care. Whilst the ethics of electronic data capture and its submission for national audits continues to attract debate, it's clear that the move towards electronic healthcare models is an inevitable direction of travel for the NHS.
Services for paediatric diabetes must be built upon joined-up and more accessible patient information. A structured electronic information record that gives HCPs across the local system real-time access to vital details of patients with childhood diabetes will be critical for the ongoing management of the condition. Furthermore, there is a need to facilitate effective community-based care, extending the diabetes care system into the community, by providing mobile access to information via the secure NHS Internet allowing clinicians to immediately record critical tests.
Mobile technology also presents an opportunity to engage patients; combining effective technology with education will ensure patients understand the real benefits of taking control over their conditions and improving preventative care. This approach transforms the depth and quality of patient information collected, improving both short-term and longer-term understanding. By flagging trends in behaviour that are undermining patient wellbeing, the system can enable a proactive response from the community care team to educate, and, hopefully, change behaviour to further improve overall health.
Evidence increasingly shows that, where such systems are in place, clinicians are benefitting from web-based solutions that are enabling them to manage diabetes patients better. Crucially, these systems are developed and designed following comprehensive clinical engagement and liaison – to ensure that they align with real-world service needs and provide genuine benefits for patients and clinicians alike.
Diabetes specialists are increasingly considering the valuable role technology can play in enhancing service delivery. For those that have already embraced it, the results are better for the NHS, better for HCPs and, most important of all, better for patients.
* ** Diabetes.co.uk