Prevention is better than a cure: How innovative interventions like Health Navigator are the answer

Sarah Mitchell writes on her reasons for joining Health Navigator’s advisory board.

I first became interested in patient flow and delayed transfer of care in 1996 and we wrote the first SITREP (situation reports to monitor bed pressures and A&E closures) form. Back then, it was used to count people stuck in hospital rather than the reporting of the bleak figures that show the immense pressure that A&E departments face today.

At the time, it seemed obvious to me that we needed to ensure that people only go to hospital for the shortest amount of time that they need and they are then able to go home. Over the years the focus has shifted to prevention and how we can avoid a hospital stay altogether. It is something which has remained a passion of mine throughout my career and it is why I have joined the Health Navigator Advisory Board.

Health Navigator uses AI-guided health coaching to reduce emergency hospital admissions. Not only have they proved that their interventions work through a successful randomised controlled study commissioned by NHS Vale of York CCG, but they are injecting a bit of innovation into a field that has got a bit stagnant. 

Health Navigator is the first service of its kind in the UK to use real-time AI and predictive data analytics to identify patients, often those with long-term conditions and who are potentially regular users of health services, who may benefit from health coaching.

This prevention aspect is really interesting to me. How do we prevent people from unnecessary spells in hospital that they then become debilitated from, that change the quality and the way that they live their lives just because they have been in hospital? 

I’ve got 35 years experience working in health and social care and the only way you affect real change is if individuals themselves are supported to make the changes themselves and it’s not something done to them. And that’s what I like about Health Navigator – it’s about coaching and supporting people to make the changes that they want to make about how they can be supported to manage their illness and help them to live their lives they way they want to lead.

I’m looking forward to working alongside the other Advisory Board members and the Health Navigator team to support them in taking their technology forward and expanding their reach to more people.

Together, I hope that we can get what Health Navigator has to offer into the planning processes for health and social care. Prevention is absolutely on the health and social care agenda now. The sector is united in its acknowledgement of the need for good prevention – the need for people to prevent themselves from becoming more ill, more disabled, more sick and therefore using acute services inappropriately or deteriorating to the extent that they need to use acute services.

I firmly believe that we should have a range of tools available to help and support people with the effective management of their own health and Health Navigator is just one of these tools. I am very much looking forward to supporting Health Navigator and seeing the benefits that this innovative company can reap.

Sarah Mitchell, adviser to Health Navigator