We are all alive, we were all born, sometimes we get sick, mostly we get well again, we are all getting older and eventually it will be over. Most of us are tax payers, indirectly funding the £100Bn annual bill for England’s National Health Service, and some pay extra for private health care. Yet it feels like most of us are happy to accept a healthcare system that remains in the pre-digital age of deference and secrecy. Why?

Most of us bank online; we don’t receive cash as direct payment for our work anymore, and we pay our bills virtually with virtual money that is nothing more than a digital number in a virtual account. We post pictures of ourselves and information for the whole world to see, enjoy and comment on. It seems the more connected with digital we are, the more intimate we are prepared to be in terms of the details we share with the whole world.

So why is it so hard to demand a brave new world of digital patient experience? A new world that breaks our pre-digital 20th century mindset.

For example, given that there is always interest about A&E waiting times,  why don’t we get a twitter feed displaying waiting times in all of the hospitals near to you, so that that the emergency service could take you to the shortest queue. What if all hospitals posted a live feed of waiting times in A&E, for surgery, for outpatients appointments, for all clinical waiting times? You may post on facebook that you are feeling ill, have stomach pains, then you get a message from your local GP offering you a consultation appointment (in the same way as the retailers do……trying to satisfy your needs).

Similarly, imagine a scenario where you post about your experience at your local hospital on facebook, and then you start receiving news updates on clinical outcomes and recovery rates. We are continually asked to fill in surveys about consumer products, we post ratings on hotel websites, and rate apps that we buy. Let’s do the same with the health services that we use, after all surely it’s far more important that this is used to improve the healthcare service than your local coffee shop. Wouldn’t it be great to open a web page and book an appointment directly with your GP or hospital instead of phoning a booking line where nobody answers and you get your appointment letter a week after the appointment has taken place. Let’s have the ability to see our medical records online alongside our medical history and the immunisations we had 20 years ago. It’s great that healthcare is free at the point of delivery, but there is still a cost – so what about being able to see how what cost has been allocated to the treatment you have received?

Finally, when it comes to our own healthcare records, our minds become filled with fear and paranoia concerning the risks that it could be used by someone else for deviant purposes. This starves us of important personal information; we deprive ourselves by our irrational fears.

So it’s definitely well over time to get brave and demanding about how we make our experiences as patients better – digital is our weapon. Simon Stevens became the Chief Executive of NHS England in April and one of his challenges is to build confidence for the NHS to invest in IT solutions again, let’s hope he is successful. For all of our sakes.

Sponsor for this post is : 

Paul Donnellan, VP CCUK. paul.donnellan@capgemini.com
Paul is a Vice President in the Operating Model & Performance Improvement capability of Capgemini Consulting UK. He has 23 years of operational experience in industry and consulting where he has worked at the forefront of the operational excellence movement globally. He is an experienced Lean Master and Six Sigma Master Black Belt and when in industry led the design and implementation of major programmes for chemical multi-nationals. During his past 10 years in consultancy his programme design and delivery has delivered in both the private and public sectors. He is currently the Head of Operational Excellence for the UK.
Linkedin – http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/paul-donnellan/3/698/145