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Supporting the spread of health technology in community services

02 February 2020
Volume 4 · Issue 1


Health technology has been proposed as a route to financial savings and improved patient safety for many years within the NHS. Nurses have a key role to play in transforming care through such technology but, despite high-level endorsement, implementation of health technology has been uneven across NHS community services. This article looks at three promising applications of health technology in community nursing: mobile access to digital care records; digital imaging; and remote face-to-face consultations. Current evidence for these technologies gives some indication of what is required before health technologies can benefit patients. Rapidly changing health technologies make it difficult for community services to make fully informed decisions when implementing them. There are challenges in predicting the full financial and efficiency impacts, in making robust estimates of costs and workload implications and in anticipating the effects on patient care and staff experience. Despite these problems, there is mounting evidence of the benefits of technological innovations available to community nurses and their patients.

Health-care technology has been proposed as a way to save money and improve patient safety in the NHS; it has even been referred to as ‘the substance of health care’.1 Nurses have a key role to play in transforming care through the use of such technology, as patient safety is central to the nursing role. Despite high-level endorsement of health-care technology, the implementation, uptake and realisation of the expected benefits of health technology have not been as expected across NHS community services.

This article looks at three promising applications of health technology to community nursing:

The evidence for these technologies gives some indication of what is required before health technology can make significant improvements that will benefit patients.

An early review noted that health technology evolves rapidly and found few studies demonstrating impacts on patient outcomes.2 Health technology's rate of change is increasing, with implications for the ability of researchers to keep pace. A more recent review has not found an increase in the number of studies over time and most published work still focuses on secondary care.3

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