Headlines: August 3rd, 2007

TECHNOLOGY EMPOWERS PATIENTS TO MAKE DECISIONS ON LIFESTYLE

 

The NHS innovation hub for the East of England is promoting a new system that allows patients to see how changing different aspects of their lifestyle can contribute to their overall future health.

The system processes patient information and provides a variety of graphical and pictorial presentations of individual’s risks, allowing different courses of action to be accurately assessed. It can also take predictions forward by applying the impact of ageing on risk factors. The system can be adjusted for different populations and demographic groups.

The uniqueness of the system lies in its capability to combine well-known calculations for predicting the risk of cardiovascular disease with other data. It can take into account, for example, the risk of death from common diseases, the relative risk for smoking related disease and changes in blood pressure and cholesterol with age.

Doctor patient communication is a difficult area and research has shown that a high proportion of patients fail to understand the message they are given. There are many reason for this including patient stress, particularly if ‘bad news’ is being received. Explaining the likely effect of lifestyle and possible lifestyle changes to a patient is a particularly difficult task because there may be reluctance to accept the message. The system bridges the doctor patent gap because it provides a variety of graphical and pictorial presentations of individual’s risks. When the patient has understood the nature and scale of the risks the system moves on to an accurate assessment of the different courses of action.