Future of young people in hands of eHealth, says health leader

The chief executive of UK health and social care provider, Turning Point, ended his keynote address at UK e-Health Week this week with a warning to eHealth “not to fail the next generation” by failing to reach “those that need it the most”.

Lord Victor Adebowale, whose organisation represents 100,000 people across 230 locations in England and Wales, said that, to date, those people who needed health and social care the most “tended to get it the least”. And technology, he said, held a key.

Engagement, connectivity, relationships…

“Technology is about engagement, connectivity and relationships,” said Adebowale. “The main point of eHealth is that it should be an important tool for these three aspects, not a substitute for it. Technology that removes relationships is of no use in healthcare.”

“Computer says ‘no’ doesn’t cut it! What we should be doing is enabling people to use the technology more creatively, which NHS England are trying to enable.”

The challenge for eHealth

He quoted statistics revealing that as much as 17% of people in the UK didn’t have access to broadband. “In five years’ time this will be like not having access to water and this needs to be addressed!”

“I think that the challenge for eHealth isn’t in the brilliance of the software, it’s in its ability to provide and produce relationships for those that matter.”

Engaging the citizens

He said that young people had expectations of their healthcare: “They expect [ill health] to be prevented; they expect to be citizens, not patients. They expect technology to be designed with them, not for them.”

He culminated his address by stressing the importance of engaging young people in health and social care through HIT: “How do we build in the use of technology for the young? Issues like this need to be addressed urgently.”

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