UK to boost life expectancy through increased focus on “predictive prevention”

By | November 5, 2018

Public Health England will bring together a group of experts to scale up the agency’s work on “predictive prevention”, enabling people to take greater control of their health and care through personalised advice and interventions, according to a new policy paper released this week.

“We are testing new ways of providing people with preventative advice, using cutting edge technology often called ‘predictive prevention’,” the government said. “Innovations like these provide exciting opportunities for the future of health and social care – offering earlier diagnosis and more targeted treatments, supporting self-management of conditions, making health and social care more convenient, and joining up data across services securely to deliver better and more personalised care.”

Leveraging the use of digital technology and data, the PHE-led programme will be “founded on the highest standards of data privacy”, being compliant with the Data Protection Act 2018, the GDPR and the work of the National Data Guardian.

“The Government wants to see health and social care exploring digital services that use information (which individuals choose to use) to offer people precise and targeted health advice – specifically designed for their demographic and their location; their lifestyle and their circumstances; their health needs and their health goals.

“Targeting interventions this way not only means we can direct specific public health interventions towards those most at risk – it means that those who want it can have preventative care that is relevant to them and more effective than ever before,” the document reads.

While no further details about the PHE project were released today, the paper outlines plans to “prevent people from becoming patients” and realise the government’s vision to improve healthy life expectancy by at least five extra years before 2035, including through virtual consultations or the use of social media. A recent NHS Digital programme saw a 13 per cent increase in first time attendances for breast screening over a four-year period in Stoke-on-Trent after the North Midlands Breast Screening Service started sharing information about the process and its importance on Facebook community groups. 

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“The NHS must go from being the world’s biggest buyer of fax machines to the tech pioneers of the future. And I know we can do it,” Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier today at the annual meeting of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes in London.

The government is expected to publish a green paper on prevention next year.

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