In his latest blog, Founder and CEO of Now Healthcare Group Lee Dentith discusses the misuse of accident & emergency departments in UK hospitals and how mHealth can be used to reduce inappropriate admissions.

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As I was browsing through last week’s news stories, I found myself once again reading a story concerning the worrying misuse of our nation’s accident and emergency facilities. Peterborough City Hospital recently reported a phenomenal 40% rise in patient numbers, with countless patients turning up with issues for which a trip to A&E were completely unnecessary.

It was reported that one woman turned up to the hospital as she had a broken finger nail, while another complained of suffering from hiccups! This is simply not what A&E is for – and, in all honesty, it isn’t something which healthcare providers have the time to be dealing with.

“Unprecedented numbers” are turning up at A&E departments on a regular basis, at a cost of around £120 to the NHS each time someone comes through the door.

This quote from chief operating officer at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Neil Doverty, is rather worrying:

“On Sunday and Monday our staff treated some 700 patients over the two days, which equates to 40% more patients than the usual average attendance. [People need] to think about the treatment they need before they come to A&E.”

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While the broken nails scenario is presumably something of a one-off, a dangerous number of people are using A&E services for health issues which are simply not appropriate.

As a nation we have to take a step back and think about why this is continuing to happen, and a lack of access to primary care is undoubtedly a major contributing factor. In today’s busy “on-the-go” society, people don’t have the time to wait weeks for an appointment with their local GP. This means that when people fall ill, even if it’s minor issues like coughs and colds, they will head straight to A&E departments or NHS walk-in centres to seek help.

This is where we come in. Mobile healthcare is a fantastic alternative when it comes to primary care access. What we need right now is to alleviate pressure on the health service as much as possible, and our products have been created for exactly that purpose.

By connecting patients to a GP through their smartphone, our Now GP platform has been created for ultimate convenience and to help reduce the number of these inappropriate A&E admissions. The current model isn’t working – it’s time to embrace mHealth and the benefits it can bring to our society.