Is self-driven healthcare the future? 

Is self-driven healthcare the future? 
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New research shows that self-driven healthcare can improve health outcomes and reduce costs, helping promote a sustainable future.  

Self-driven healthcare is an umbrella term introduced by Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency, to conceptualise aspects of healthcare delivery that can support people in becoming more engaged in managing their health and wellbeing, rather than being passive receivers of healthcare.  

The research is published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.  

Self-driven healthcare: an ecosystem for healthcare data  

In their paper, the authors from Imperial College London and Innovate UK describe the self-driven healthcare ecosystem as a way to support individuals to take more ownership of their health and wellbeing by recording their data such as weight and blood pressure using a phone app, tablet, computer or Bluetooth device. This data would then be uploaded to a secure self-driven healthcare portal which holds all their health records, including those generated in the wider healthcare system. 

Lead author Dr Austen El-Osta, Director of the Self-Care Academic Research Unit (SCARU) at Imperial College London, said: “Individuals would also enter other data such as what medication they had taken that day, the food they had eaten or the exercise they had done. They may even have a range of other devices that automatically record and upload useful information, such as environmental data about local air quality that day.” 

Using digital twin technology and providing overall health status

A personalised dashboard will present the user with their ‘digital twin’ and the portal may also offer insights and advice, in the form of microlearning and behaviour change interventions. The programme could also paint a holistic picture of the person’s overall health and wellbeing status.  

Dr El-Osta said: “The vision for SDH is that these personal healthcare management systems are integrated with the wider healthcare system, including the NHS.” He added: “SDH would support better online interaction with healthcare professionals and improve the exchange of information, including shareable personal healthcare records and self-generated data.” 

The researchers believe that building an infrastructure that encourages self-driven healthcare that can connect to the wider healthcare system whilst having the potential to host a wider range of activities, such as preventative medicine and home clinical trials. 

The team also outlined how self-driven healthcare could help governments and health organisations control the rising costs and address priority areas such as equality, diversity and inclusion, levelling up and net-zero. 

Dr Chris Rowe, Medical Technology Innovation Lead at Innovate UK, said: “How self-driven healthcare is adopted in the future is very important, especially when it is applied to help enhance the consumer health system by trying to link it effectively with state-funded NHS health and social care systems. It will be important to determine if these online environments will be provided by expanding the NHS App, for example, or by commercial companies.” 

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