We live in a world where a trip to our GP often results in leaving with a prescription in hand. Although drugs are essential to the health of many people, we now have decades of clinical evidence that suggests behavioural treatment, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is a more effective long-term solution for conditions such as depression and insomnia. And yet, only a fraction of these patients have access to non-pharmaceutical medicine.
However this may be about to change. Writing in PharmaTimes this week, Big Health co-founder Peter Hames gives his perspective on what he describes as a ‘revolution in healthcare’. For the first time we are able to create digital health interventions, accessed via web and mobile technologies. The benefits of GP’s prescribing digital medicine could be huge – reduced cost and strain on healthcare systems, help for patients to manage their conditions, improved patient outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.
So why is this vision still a virtual one? Doctor’s are rightly hesitant to recommend health apps to patients until clinically proven to be effective, yet apps need to be piloted in practice to gather the necessary evidence. Concerns have been raised about the privacy of medical data but healthcare settings are becoming increasingly reliant on technology, from appointment booking to medical records, and robust safeguards are commonplace. Earlier this month, NHS England committed to launching a “kitemark” system in 2015 to help patients access trusted apps. It seems the door is opening to a new era of digital medicine.