Do you ever wish the NHS would do more? I'm not talking about more as in operations or activity, or even as in the aspiration for a perfect delivery of a caring service to every patient, I'm thinking about the "luxuries" of health care, the nice to haves.
Let me explain.
Health needs to move "off the mainframe" - see previous posts on this matter. Currently the personalised and portable market for healthcare is being delivered by organisations traditionally not associated with health, tech giants and startups from Apple to Yecco are moving into the delivery of proactive health and care in a way that the leviathan of the NHS is struggling to match.
Some would say it's not our job to be bleeding edge in care and delivery, others would say that it's our future survival.
I think it's inevitable that digital "haves" will use their disposable income to continue the quantified self and health agenda, to know more about themselves and invest in their ongoing wellness. The growth of health and wellness apps and services is evidence to support this belief.
Where is the NHS in this market?
Actually we're amateurs.
Companies such as Red Ninja, Thirsty Horses and uMotif are struggling to get the NHS to accept their input, products and approach. The barriers include the shortage of cash, the belief that personalised, portable proactive care is unaffordable and a luxury.
I think it's an essential for the future of the NHS, but right now money IS tight.
So, why not let people like me pay for it?
Why not create a branch of the NHS which provides personalised care at a premium?
Why not create a pay per use NHS teleconsult to rival Babylon and Push Doctor?
Why not embed the technology of 23 and me into the NHS Premium service?
Why not offer the quantified self package of healthcare to those who can afford it?
I can hear critics saying that it's the thin end of the wedge for free at point of care NHS, that it's a two tier NHS, that it's going to detract from delivery and promote health inequality.
Just think about it.
Affluent "digital haves" will spend their disposable income on 23 and me at £125 a go and then impact on the NHS for trusted impartial advice, worried well will contact their GPs after a commercial body scan has revealed "fatty change" in their liver and get the advice of the trusted NHS brand.
As we currently stand the non NHS organisation makes the profit and the NHS meets the cost.
Why not offer me a premium, personal, portable digital health package? the profits here would be investment into mainstream NHS services, the diversion of my health into a digital package would mean freed up resources for mainstream care, the startups and new tech businesses would have a single gateway into the NHS.
The idea is not without precedent.
Many big companies create small tiger teams/ spin offs / sub brands to enable themselves to compete in new markets, for example Hewlett Packard runs its two printer divisions as competitors, inkjet vs laser, HSBC created First Direct to exploit telephone and Internet banking.
In terms of disruptive innovation, stepping into the portable personal digital health agenda now, with a clear vision of how new tech will be leveraged makes good sense.
NHS Personal Digital -I'd pay for that- wouldn't you?