Mr Hancock’s Further Tech Idiocy

From our Tech Correspondent:

Every NHS hospital, GP practice and community care service in the country will be given access to a full-fibre – also known as fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) – broadband service as part of the government’s 10-year NHS Long Term Plan, health secretary Matt Hancock has announced. As previously outlined, these include a so-called “digital first” approach to primary healthcare, giving patients the choice of online or video GP consultations, more virtual clinics for hospital outpatient departments and cloud-based record keeping – all in the name of improving efficiency and outcomes within the NHS, backed by more than £20bn “gifted” to the service for its 70th anniversary in 2018.

Not gifted, of course. Taxpayers money.

But I’d like to know, who wants this? I love Skype for meetings, but if I’ve got something growing in a delicate place, do I want to whip out my phone at work and drop trou to Skype the GP? What if he wants to check my temperature? Give me a prescription? That can’t be done over the phone. So, I’m still going to have to go.

And This saves no clinician time, and that’s the biggest NHS problem. The focus of technology should be on things like how to get more diagnosis done without humans, how to reduce how much time clinicians spend on non-clinical activities, how to improve diagnosis by clinicians so that patients don’t keep coming back. If you’ve got to wait 3 weeks to see a GP, but you can now do it via your phone instead of going, do you care?

“To give people control over how they access NHS services, I want to unlock the full potential of technology. This is the future for our 21st century healthcare system and a central part of our NHS Long Term Plan. “Faster broadband connections can help us deliver these dramatic improvements. We need clinicians and other healthcare professionals to feel confident they can access fast, reliable broadband, so they can provide patients with the best possible care.”

OK, but if you’ve got a GP in an area with bad internet (like a rural area), how are the people going to use their iPhones to video their unmentionables at their GP? Let’s assume a GP practice in the highlands has dial-up internet, that’s what all the neighbouring villages are likely to have too. So, you put a nice fat fibre cable to the GP, you’ve still got everyone around on 2G. They aren’t going to be able to video their unmentionables to the GP, are they?

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There is a benefit if infectious people don’t come into the surgery, or not having the doctor go to bed bound patients, but that assumes those patients know well enough how to use the technology, my experience, even in a high tech company is that it is common to waste the first 10 minutes of video calls waiting for people to sort out the tech – not good if the appointment is only 10 minutes long. This also ignores the fact that an important part of diagnosis is also smell – particularly in wound care and the like. Probably the… Read more »