Digital Health Rehabilitation Can Improve Access to Care in Spinal Cord Injury in the UK: A Proposed Solution
Keywords:Digital Health, Multidisciplinary Team, Spinal Cord Injury, Rehabilitation, Telehealth, Telemedicine, Telerehabilitation
Lack of specialist beds, inadequate finance and shortage of skilled staff make it difficult for Spinal Cord Injury Centres (SCICs) in the United Kingdom (UK) to admit all newly injured individuals. Length of stay of those admitted can be too brief. At discharge, follow-up care is sparse and inadequate. We therefore propose that specialist spinal units redefine their roles and act as catalysts to build capacity by enhancing expertise in the wider community. SCICs can devolve certain tasks locally to less specialised units with their support, training, and guidance. This Commentary further proposes that use of Digital Health Technologies, (i.e., to deploy telemedicine, telehealth, and telerehabilitation), can enhance rehabilitation opportunities. The authors set-forth their vision for a comprehensive web portal that will serve as a primary resource for evidence-based practice, information on guidelines, care pathways, and protocols of SCI management. At any stage during the acute management of SCI and following discharge, rehabilitation specialists could conduct remote consultation with persons with SCI and acute care specialists via the web portal, allowing timely access to specialist input and better clinical outcomes. The proposed portal would also provide information, advice and support to persons with SCI and their family members. The strategic use of digital health technologies has been shown to result in cost and time savings and increase positive outcomes.
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