Once upon a time a nation would be spurred into action by a jolly good book.
Take the NHS for example. This year is its 70th birthday. But it’s origins can be traced back to books by A.J.Cronin and Dr Benjamin Moore in the early 20th Century. Among other things.
These days national debate is more likely to be conducted on SurveyMonkey than prompted by a good old page-turner. C’est la vie.
Today Healthwatch England – ‘the independent champion for people using the NHS and social services’ – is launching a national conversation on the future of health and social care asking ‘What do you want the NHS to look like at 100?’
It’s asking people to go on its website (link above) and share views and ideas on three topics; how health and social care needs are changing; roles and responsibilities and; the role of technology. You can also join the debate on social media using the hashtag #NHS100 or take part in Healthwatch events around the country. The results will be passed onto decision-makers T the end of the year Healthwatch England says.
It’s already done some survey work which is published today and focuses on people’s views about technology. It shows that we would rather be treated by a fallible doctor than a faultless robot. And who can blame us. Imagine the cost of all those AA batteries at the very least. Not to mention the tussles over the remote.
More interesting are the results which show how we anticipate technology to assume a greater role in our health in the future. Remote monitoring, personalised medicine, mobile appointment booking and greater use of artificial intelligence are just some of the things we expect to see assume ever greater prominence in our care and wellbeing. Still, about 10% of us are retro in outlook and think fax machines will still be in use (I have to confess I am one of them having spent 10 of the last 14 years cared for in a South London GP surgery which was more Dickens than Asimov).
Given the eternal headlines about public wariness over data and technology I think there is something encouraging in the optimism that perhaps lies beneath these results. A sense that technology will be just as important a force behind improving health as it always has been, if not more so.
The NHS is one of the best real-life stories ever created and the pages keep on turning come what may. This is a chance to write the next instalment or two and who is to say the sequel can’t be better than what’s gone before.
Please join the conversation.