HTN Voice: How personalised healthcare can benefit the NHS?

By Thomas Cooke, clinical services manager at Liva Healthcare

The NHS plans to treat up to 2.5 million people with personalised care by 2024. Personalised care can mean many things, from medication targeted at a person’s own genome, to care plans based on a patient’s personal needs and preferences.

The NHS sees personalised care as when the “expertise, capacity and potential of people, families and communities” come together to support an individual in their treatment plan. Its benefits are far reaching.

Empowering patients and valuing them as active participants and experts in the planning and management of their own health and wellbeing is central to this approach. But how can personalised healthcare benefit the NHS?

Saves time and resources

In the age of precision medicine, where a disease treatment and prevention takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle, treatments can become complex. But it needn’t be too difficult. Here, saving time and resources is important.

As individuals are given bespoke plans, with varying amounts of medication or means of administering specific treatments, using digital tools for medication tracking can save time and resources. For the NHS, this is crucial. With the service already under pressure, and worsened still due to Covid-19, we need to find ways to enable certain patients to take control of their healthcare.

When patients can submit and record how they are taking their medication, wastage can be minimised, and active participation is encouraged. At the same time, uploading how people feel and tracking medicines mirrors how some patients engage with other sleep or calorie trackers in their personal life, meaning medication tracking can easily become a habit.

With patients using digital tools to track their medication, healthcare professionals can engage with them on this platform to check-in and make adjustments as needed. One healthcare practitioner can manage up to 500 patients on a digital coaching platform that flags people in need of extra support. This ensures no patient falls through the cracks, while increasing efficiency and enabling personalised treatment plans.

Personalised advice to prevent chronic conditions

Personalised health care, by nature, encourages an open dialogue between patient and practitioner. When engaged in that dialogue, patients are often encouraged to set their health goals and objectives with a healthcare professional. Treatment options and advice can then be tailored to each individual and changed to help keep them on track.

Whilst the healthcare system has historically had to focus on treating symptoms over preventative treatments, personalised healthcare poses a huge opportunity. If we can reduce the number of people with chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease by providing tailored advice, we can transform individuals lives and lessen the burden on the NHS.

Particularly for weight management, having regular coaching and advice can result in sustainable weight loss that is maintained after the programme ends. A personalised approach works.

The future looks bright

The NHS is already embracing personalised care. Programmes such as the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, invite people at risk of Type 2 diabetes to access tailored diet and lifestyle advice from a digital health coach.

If general practice and the medication prescriptions services embrace elements of personalised care, the patient experience could be transformed for the better.