As the general election comes to a close and no one can predict for certain who will take up the mantle in Downing Street, the future of the NHS and its funding hangs in the balance.
This is why, until solid changes are brought in, the health care industry does everything in its power to become more efficient, to curb unnecessary spending and retain money for important investments.
At the moment the NHS saves no money and so the funding gap is just continuing to swell in size, with experts estimating that the gap will have reached £30 billion by 2020.
There are many simple innovations already in use that improve efficiency. Beds for patients and equipment that utilise castor wheels are easy to move around and so make health care work more efficient on a day to day basis. The health industry regularly uses castors from Tente, a company that specialises in improving mobility and has a castor for every purpose.
Something as simple as two-way swing doors are another innovation that improves efficiency when it comes to moving patients around the hospital as well as a fully functioning pager system that notifies medical staff when and where they are needed.
Another simple innovation that is reducing pressure on the health care industry and improving efficiency is ‘telemedicine’ which is essentially speaking with a doctor or nurse over video call.
Companies, such as immedicare, are currently working with practices up and down the country to set up video calling services, that avoid the need for people to take up appointments at their local surgery and reduces the number of A&E visits.
From the comfort of your own home you can book an appointment with a doctor that takes place on your computer or television screen and is already proving beneficial for the elderly – who are considered to be the main users of NHS services. Lloyds Pharmacy have also set up a similar service, but you must pay £20 for an appointment.
On the more advanced side of innovations, companies such as Andiamo are revolutionizing the way we think about orthotics and mobility aids. The company’s founders, Naveed and Samiya Parvez, know the heartache of trying to ensure a disabled child is comfortable and able to enjoy a higher quality of life.
Their son was born with cerebral palsy and they experienced a frustrating and distressing process when it came to fitting supportive braces for him. After attending a technology show, Naveed discovered that you can combine 3D printing, 3D scanning and biomechanical models to create orthotics that fit their needs perfectly. The use of such techniques can not only ensure disabled children receive the support they need but that the health care industry benefits from a fast, reliable and cheaper alternative to its current orthotic processes. Read more about their story and challenges here.
Improvements in technology should be increasing the efficiency of the health care industry and cutting costs, in other industries better technology means more money saved but this is not being reflected in the NHS.
This is because the money saved simply by being efficient can rarely surmount the initial cost for equipment. The cost of an ultrasound machine can cost from £20,000 to £100,000, so this is not an area we can look to in order to achieve cost savings and efficiency.
Let’s celebrate the simple innovations, the castor wheels and the video calls that are steadily improving efficiency and helping the NHS attempt to fill the gaping black hole that is the funding gap.