UK better placed than the US to manage chronic disease: lessons from the US

A major new report published today by Healthcare at Home Ltd explores which technologies and models used in the US for chronic disease management could successfully be adopted here in the UK.

The report – Lessons from the US: using technology and homecare to improve chronic disease management – is based on the observations of a US study tour of NHS and Healthcare at Home representatives who visited colleagues in Kaiser Permanente and HealthTech to look at how they use remote technology to manage chronic disease. Whilst they found there to be some exciting hi- and lo-tech innovations and lessons to glean, the group found that the US was not as far ahead in this field as expected.

Ruth Poole, Group Clinical Director, Healthcare at Home Ltd, says: “We were pleasantly surprised to find that the UK is in many ways better resourced and structured than the US to overcome the challenges related to increasing demand for services and chronic disease management. Specialist out-of-hospital care providers like Healthcare at Home Ltd are well established in the UK, and the NHS is already embracing innovation and major transformation in service design in certain areas, but we need to see this progress on a much wider scale if the NHS is to achieve the significant benefits that can be gained.

”The report found that in the “[US] healthcare follows the money, not the population’s health needs. The UK has an opportunity to look beyond this and concentrate on longer term benefits”.

One of the key recommendations is that the move to deliver more care closer to the home has to be underpinned by new models, technologies and systems: “If we simply transplant the same model of care used in hospitals to another setting we will not achieve the changes needed”.

Other reflections and recommendations from the report include:

  • The UK must concentrate on longer-term benefits and consider the population’s health needs as much as the return on investment
  • The NHS set-up allows it to look beyond immediate costs and benefits to start developing more innovative solutions that will lessen the cost of future services.
  • Technologies delivered through everyday devices such as TVs and mobile phones will encourage greater compliance
  • SHAs have access to innovation funds and should therefore take the lead in system development
  • Transplanting the same model of care to another setting closer to home will not achieve the necessary changes
  • Enabling an efficient flow of information between different health organisations is essential to effective disease management
  • Capital investment should not just be about buildings
  • Commissioners need to look beyond their usual providers and pathways and embrace more imaginative commissioning
  • GPs and other primary care staff will play a key role in providing care closer to home
  • The NHS must place more emphasis on managerial analytical competency

The overall purpose of the study tour was:

  • to explore how diagnostics and care are delivered in the home
  • to see how clinical interventions are managed using technology and support workers for increased value, and
  • to glean any lessons for the UK from how the US is addressing these issues.

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