Simple mobile technologies could save British NHS billions

If you thought our recent debate over health policy was contentious and occasionally brain-dead, just wait until you see what's brewing across the Atlantic. "The British public have a love-hate relationship with the NHS. They love to deride its inefficiencies and problems, but as soon as anyone attempts to take an axe to it, it transmutes into the most valuable aspect of being British," Nick Hunn writes on the Creative Connectivity blog.

However, just like in the U.S. and many other countries, the aging population and other factors leading to runaway health costs are making the current system unsustainable. "Rather than acknowledge it, our politicians [even those who have been pushing through the U.S. health reform bill] are doing little more than being fitted for their lemming suits and asking for directions to the edge of the cliff," according to Hunn.

Hunn proffers mobile healthcare as a solution, and a fairly simple one at that. He cites a 2005 report showing that missed appointments cost the National Health Service 575 million pounds annually (that's $884 million at current exchange rates)--enough to pay for 27,000 nurses or 8,000 new doctors--and notes, "The obvious solution is to send reminders to patient's phones."

This would be just the first step in a move toward patient empowerment. He says one major British pharmacy chain reports that mothers with iPhones are going the self-diagnosis route with sick children and turning to OTC drugs, taking 825 million pounds, or $1.27 billion, out of NHS prescription costs.

Hunn lists other specific examples where mobile healthcare technologies can or already do save the NHS money. "Once again, a lot of what is suggested can be accomplished by using mobile phones, text alerts and a new generation of simple, connected health and fitness devices," he says.

For more:
- check out Hunn's post on the Creative Connectivity blog