Coming soon: book an appointment on your smart phone

In what Britain’s health secretary calls “a decade of patient power” plans are being made to give NHS patients the same kind of smart phone access that banks give their customers.

“People should be able to access their own medical records 24/7”  Jeremy Hunt planned to tell an NHS conference on Tuesday (according to the Telegraph and the Guardian.)  Patients should be able to access records via smartphone by the end of 2018.

“If the NHS is going to be the safest, highest quality healthcare system in the world we need to do technology better,” Hunt was scheduled to say.

This would merely continue a decade of influence that the smart phone has had on medicine.  According to Ars Tecnica, the smartphone has been affecting healthcare since the second iPhone came out, when Dr Omori declared “The future is now.  Join the iPhone revolution!”

Of course, other brands now offer smart phones, with Android and Windows varieties being generally more affordable than Apple’s product.

Doctors throughout the world already use smart phones, and according to Ars Tecnica, you can find one in many a white coat pocket.

The effect of smart phones does not stop with increased availability of information.  There is now “less emphasis on memorisation” in medical classrooms.

Many apps only seem to replace old technology.  Can anatomy apps do anything that the old model skeleton in the consultation room couldn’t?  Some, however, such as MDCalc, are designed to help the doctor make decisions in new ways.

How will plans for implementing more smart phone access in the NHS affect patient behaviour?  Only time will tell.

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