A digital health diary for Jersey

4 February 2024 / 7:01 pm


Jersey is in a unique position to capitalise on the evolution of digital healthcare technologies, with the benefits of high-speed internet, new hospital facilities on the horizon, and a highly competitive medical workforce market. In 2016 the government published its Digital Health Strategy and one key recommendation of this was the creation of a patient centered health record system. The patient has access to and control over their health data using a dedicated app. They can choose to share their health records with whoever they like, including hospitals, specialists, and general practitioners. Through control over their health data, patients can take charge of their health and with the right tools, lead healthier and longer lives.

So fast forward and what could digital healthcare in Jersey look like over the next 10-20 years? Perhaps a diary from 2035 could read something like this:

Back in 2025, a health strategy vision was published by the Government of Jersey with a strong focus on preventative medicine using digital health technologies as the enabler. The strategy identified Jersey’s opportunities to become a high-class health destination and bring new incomes to the Island. A clinically led, arms-length organisation was created called Health Jersey to run the health department, supported by selected government services as enablers. A workforce plan was agreed to fundamentally reform healthcare worker’s pay and conditions so that the Island became the go-to destination for high quality staff demoralised by the NHS. Instantly there was no longer a recruitment problem and health became one of the most attractive careers for school leavers.

Alongside this, the new hospital facilities project was fast tracked through a new ‘light-touch’ planning process with additional capacity to provide health tourism on Island. Private medicine became a rapid growth field and with diminishing public waiting lists, the health of Islanders started to improve. A contract was agreed to provide selected procedures in Jersey for NHS and others Channel Island patients.

In 2028, thanks to a coalition of local digital experts and with Government funding, a software platform called The Jersey Care Record was created providing Islanders with free access and control over their healthcare data. The application allowed patients to connect with the healthcare provider of their choice with a government funded token scheme. Appointments and tests could be booked directly online, and electronic prescriptions issued for new and repeat prescriptions for home delivery.

In 2030, the Island Medical School was founded working alongside a famous UK University to create new ways of teaching doctors and health staff in Jersey. The academic credibility of Health Jersey was enhanced and with it, the quality of care. A culture of questioning, research and learning was encouraged backed up by the launch of the Jersey Research Foundation. This charity gave grants to islanders across all industries including health, finance, agriculture, and hospitality with the aim to stimulate new ideas, entrepreneurship, and products as part of “The Jersey Way”. The Island evolved its global image as a financial centre for philanthropy and new funds were established to redistribute personal and institutional wealth to appropriate projects and causes.

In 2031 the Jersey Care Record project became a valuable success and was licensed around the world. The system worked alongside the many other digital health technologies and companies which started locating to the Island to develop and test their products. A dedicated intellectual property service for digital health technologies was established alongside the first of many new digital health data trust, warehousing and analysis services. 

In 2032 the Jersey Care Record expanded to provide all Islanders with a digital copy of their individual DNA data. This was held securely under patient control but could be selectively shared when required. For example, when looking for a specific gene abnormality in heart disease or cancer. Not only that, but for the first time, personalised drug dosing could be delivered based on the way that the individual metabolised the medicine. Drug interaction errors and side effects were reduced, and individual benefits of medicine maximised. The UK government started to model a DNA roll-out for its citizens based on the advice and knowledge gained from the Jersey specialist teams.

By 2035 the government’s preventative programme was starting to have its effects and the health needs of Islanders reduce. A strategy to eradicate heart attacks was announced with heart screening projects rolled out using digital health technologies at school and in middle-age. With improving health, and zero waiting lists, the additional capacity of Health Jersey allowed even more patients to come to the island for healthcare bringing in additional revenue for Jersey.

We are entering a transitional period of health with digital systems and artificial intelligence permitting us to deliver care in exciting new ways in Jersey. At the same time, we need to encourage and allow our population to take charge of their health data to improve their healthspan and lifespan, and to halt the escalation of long-term conditions before they overwhelm care and economic systems.

Published in the Jersey Evening Post as part of Digital Day – original at: https://edition.jerseyeveningpost.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pnum=29&edid=e2a8b7c9-7bd2-43aa-916c-64ea213232bb&isshared=true

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