Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy won’t cure all the ills of health­care

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - OPINION -

Our ex­clu­sive re­port on pages 6 and 7 of to­day’s news­pa­per re­ally shines a light on the prob­lems fac­ing GPS in Scot­land.

It is sim­ply stag­ger­ing to think that one doc­tor has 5,000 pa­tients on her books. That is a huge fig­ure.

It is only thanks to dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy that the doc­tor in­volved is able to cope with such a work­load.

It ap­pears to make sense that some pa­tients should email ahead with their symp­toms to let the doc­tor de­cide on how and when they should be treated.

Af­ter all, the vast ma­jor­ity may well be con­tact­ing her re­gard­ing fairly com­mon com­plaints which are easy to tackle – com­mon colds, bugs, and aches and pains.

While tech­nol­ogy can be used to help those with a fairly ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of the in­ter­net, we should not for­get some el­derly pa­tients are not as well con­nected, so to speak. Some find the web a dif­fi­cult place to nav­i­gate, and fear be­ing tar­geted by cy­ber crooks.

But it is hugely im­por­tant that in­creas­ing dig­i­tal use in the health ser­vice is not seen as a re­place­ment for hu­man con­tact.

For some peo­ple, a visit to the doc­tor for one ail­ment may ac­tu­ally be a chance to spot some­thing much more se­ri­ous.

It might be a five-minute chat but in that short space of time the doc­tor may use their ex­pe­ri­ence to see that some­thing else is amiss.

So, by all means, let’s em­brace tech­nol­ogy as a way to im­prove treat­ment.

If it can im­prove a pa­tient’s ex­pe­ri­ence while aid­ing di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment then that’s all for the good.

How­ever, let’s make sure those in au­thor­ity don’t use tech­nol­ogy to re­move great swathes of staff to save money.

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