Bringing Digital Healthcare Solutions to Patients: Challenges in the World of Medtech
Dr Anshumen Bhagat
The healthcare system has changed dramatically over the past decade. While the objectives remain the same: improved affordability, better customer satisfaction and better health outcomes, the way these objectives are met has changed because of advancing technology and innovation.
Due to the transformation of the digital healthcare sector, we have seen an exponential growth of mobile apps in the healthcare ecosystem, including virtual health solutions and telemedicine.
GPDQ was the UK’s first GP-on-demand app, but now in 2018, there are an abundance of mobile health solutions for patients. Let’s look at some of the key challenges facing the medtech industry.
Ensuring quality whilst innovating
The widespread availability of mobile health solutions presents an accessible, affordable and convenient opportunity. However, some medical professionals get so caught up in creating a seamless digital service that they lose sight of the importance of clinical quality whilst innovating.
One of the biggest challenges for the UK’s medtech sector is striking a balance between embracing innovative technology to create a service whilst effectively coping with the growing demand for that service – and having the ability to simultaneously deliver excellent clinical care. There is a risk that adopting new technologies can leave us with little time to focus on quality and what’s best for the individual patient.
Reliability, safety and the human touch
In all aspects of mobile health solutions, I believe that patient care and quality should be the primary concern. A major part of ensuring quality is through offering a safe and reliable service that improves the overall outcome for the patient.
GPDQ offers a face-to-face home or office visit for patients from an experienced GP along with the convenience of booking via a mobile app or website. Most of the reviews we receive from customers show that they benefited from the speed, ease and convenience of using the app, but were particularly impressed by the service from the GP themselves – the top-quality clinical care. GPDQ offers an industry leading 25-minute consultation length as standard to allow enough time to cover everything thoroughly and works with a range of innovative partners to equip our doctors with technology-enabled tools for diagnosis and treatment.
Despite the range of virtual health services available, there is often no substitute for a physical examination to keep things safe, and certainly no substitution for the human touch to provide care.
Data management and security
While welcoming new areas of innovation, the Internet of Things and Big Data brings technical challenges with data management and security for medical device developers.
Security is topical across all industries right now, with the impending introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and increasing concern and awareness among consumers about what happens to their personal data. However, for medtech companies, any failures or breaches can be catastrophic for business relationships and trust. They need to ensure their privacy and security processes can cope with this data shift and take special care to securely transmit and store data.
Changing regulations and compliance
Evolving regulations on the security, privacy, reliability and safety of medical devices can have a significant impact on the internal processes, as well as the profitability of medtech companies.
Developers must use adequate processes to ensure safety, reliability and security is stipulated by standards and regulations imposed by various governments and international regulatory bodies, such as The Care Quality Commission inspection that GPDQ has just undertaken. These regulations are constantly being updated, so contenders in the medtech industry need to be thorough and keep up-to-date on industry changes.
GPDQ: a successful mobile health solution
GPDQ was born out of my desire to help build a sustainable healthcare system in the UK. For me, community-based primary care is the key to achieving this. I work on the primary care frontline in the NHS every day, which is stretched and under a lot of pressure.
The concept that a patient wanting to see a GP has another option, that doesn’t involve putting pressure on other areas of the NHS (such as unnecessary attendance at A&E), is something that complements the system and enhances patient choice. By giving them choice, convenience and access, we are creating an army of empowered digitally-savvy patients who can help themselves through technology, rather than solely depending on the NHS.
I believe it’s all about creating digital services and applications that provide effective health solutions, no matter where that customer resides. Technology enables medical professionals, such as myself, to make this a reality.
Dr Anshumen Bhagat is the creator behind the UK’s first doctor-on-demand app GPDQ (GP Delivered Quick. A Chief Medical Officer with 15 years’ experience as a GP, Dr Bhagat runs three NHS practices in North London and successfully straddles the private and public sectors.