Will Gran want to use mobile Apps, etc?


Digital Transformation cartoon | Marketoonist | Tom Fishburne

Before the older generation gets the Grandkids to give them IT lessons, perhaps some bright spark might think through how anyone is going to receive the ‘new’ Digital-friendly info from NHS, if they are blind, partially-sighted, don’t own a mobile phone or a laptop, etc?

Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, openly admits he has signed up to Babylon.  Yes, the company that says  “Babylon’s mission is to put an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on earth”. 

Fine, but it ain’t free.  And it’s not as user-friendy as sitting face-to-face with your GP who knows your medical history. 

The fact that the NHS IT service has cost well in excess of £60 BILLION -and still doesn’t work – is conveniently being swept under Whitehall’s carpet (it must be a big one).

Reality check

Babylon as a provider is all very well, but no-one seems to take account of the fact that Gran might not be too happy talking to her doctor via a mobile phone (that’s supposing she has one).  Silver surfers are a rapidly expanding sector, but not all of them can afford a mobile, or understand how to use it.

They are savvy about money, and many use a laptop, but mobiles can be expensive. On a pension, to pay £450 -700 (or even more) per annum is a luxury.  If they ‘pay as you go’  the cost of making a call at 50p per minute is too expensive for many: and that annoying “your call is important to us” as you wait, bumps up charges. On a pension this takes a massive chunk out of income.

If Dept. Health wants help rolling out their crazy schemes, at least CONSULT with users.  But I have yet to meet one single Silver Surfer who has been consulted about the roll-out of NHS Digital (ND).

Ask those who know

Chris Lewis is one who understands costs, and has founded the Charity SimPal, designed to help cancer patients with limited income keep in touch with family.  I bet he won’t be too happy if SimPal has to fund cancer survivors on a pension who need to see a GP, if they are signed up for ND and Gran’s health problems means she constantly calls her GP.

If Gran is going to ‘go all digital’, someone is going to have to look at the cost, and come up with a way of making this type of service less expensive for users.

Currently, most elderly patients have a set-up that takes them to their GP’s surgery at minimum cost.  They don’t want to spend a large percentage of a pension on phoning GPs,  The IT-obsessed gurus in Whitehall need to understand this simple fact.

So what ARE NHS bosses doing?

For a start, we are told “NHS England is ‘reviewing safety regulations for GP diagnostic apps”

Isn’t this bleeding obvious and should be happening anyway?

Digital reality case study
I finally have a hospital appointment with a Respiratory Consultant;  I have been suggesting this is what I need to my GP for the past few months, but NHS delays, Covid-19 etc. have blocked this.  Consultant gives me a very, very thorough examination, then says they are writing a prescription.  Hurrah – at last something happening.

Of course, under NHS rules I can’t get the prescription at the hospital, it has to go to my GP – who will then issue it.  Email arrives from Consultant’s office, with an attachment with details of prescription. Can’t open as the ND company that set this up hasn’t taken into account that many people now use Chrome Books (me included). And the set-up has overlooked Chrome books, even though PC World say 20% of sales of inexpensive laptops are Chrome books.

I get in touch with GP’s surgery, but attachment hasn’t come through to them yet – so I contact the company that has got the NHS contract for this Digital initiative, Egress.  Needless to say, they haven’t thought of this, and can’t help,  So I wait until Friday.

Tuesday following (8 days later) I receive a long email from Egress, saying “Additionally, upon further review I did not see you had an account set up …… An account would be required to view a secured message that you had received. In order to register, please could you try these steps:

and then goes into a long and complicated list of all the steps I have to take to access MY data.

What’s wrong with just sending an easy-to-read report to me?

Friday I phone Surgery – a GP will phone me later on to confirm prescription.  Bank Holiday coming up, but this doesn’t concern anyone.  Finally, GP calls me, but too late to issue prescription until after Bank Holiday.

Final insult – I contact NHS Digital via their website address.  Back zings an email saying their Inbox is full, and “please try later”.

P.S.  It gets worse:  I get a very quick follow-up appointment and CT Scan.  Consutant reviews this, and changes prescription.  Details sent in an email to me as an attachment. Guess what – I try again, then contact Egress to say still not working – they email me back to say contact hospital.

Consultant’s secretary and I have a conversation – not very complimentary about certain companies, and she prints out the letter and sends it snail mail.

Why not go back to picking up prescription from the Consultant and calling in to a chemist on the way home?   


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