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A long-term plan for embracing digital healthcare technology

14 February 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 3


Emeritus Professor Alan Glasper, from the University of Southampton, discusses the recently published NHS Long Term Plan's proposals for developing the use of digital technology to enhance patient care

In January 2019 NHS England published the much-anticipated NHS Long Term Plan (NHS England, 2019).

This ambitious plan, which is designed to sustain the NHS over the next decade, places emphasis on disease prevention, the eradication of health inequalities and on offering ‘digital first’ care where appropriate. The plan is configured in seven sections. Section five details the Government's commitment to upgrade technology and digitally enabled care across the NHS.

The use of technology to manage care is as old as the use of the telephone itself. In fact, the first recorded use of telephone technology in health care occurred in 1879 when a doctor was able to reassure a parent and discount a diagnosis of croup by listening to a sick child's breathing over the telephone, reported in a letter to the Lancet (Aronson, 1977). However, diagnosing patients and imparting healthcare information over the telephone could be thought of as analogous to providing care with your eyes closed and your hands tied behind your back (Glasper, 1993).

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