How health technology could help ease the sexual health crisis

The demand for sexual health services recently hit record levels in the UK but underfunding and cuts across services are leading to a sexual health crisis.

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The modern sexual health crisis

Cases of what we would once consider antiquated sexually transmitted diseases including syphilis are increasing and super-bug STIs including drug-resistant gonorrhoea are causing genuine cause for concern among health professionals.

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Although these statements currently make the sexual health landscape look rather bleak, there is a clear opportunity to utilise technology to revolutionise the way we treat sexually transmitted diseases in the modern era.

Sexual healthcare provision can feel confusing, inconvenient and intimidating for many patients. Some simply don’t want to have to wait several weeks to secure an appointment, some don’t have time to spend in a waiting room, and some are daunted by the prospect of engaging in a face-to-face conversation about their sexual health. Embarrassment and/or discomfort are regularly cited as reasons for avoiding STI testing altogether.

If you do want to access an STI test London is home to a wide variety of healthcare professionals and services including checkurself.org.uk/plus/ designed to make the process as comfortable and straightforward as possible.

Technology and sexual health

Untreated STIs can cause long-term health implications. Chlamydia is an easily treatable STI, however, if untreated it can lead to fertility problems. The option to access professional and compassionate advice via a smartphone or computer at a convenient time eradicates many of the healthcare barriers that significant numbers of patients attest to experiencing. Tests and any appropriate medication could be couriered directly to the patient’s door, which is both convenient and can help to remove any feelings of judgement that a patient might feel.

Patients often feel more comfortable accessing services in this way, which allows them to share information and concerns more freely with their healthcare professional. This can lead to more comprehensive treatment and better patient outcomes in both the short and long-term.

Embracing digital health solutions also has significant benefits for the NHS, particularly in terms of efficiency and cost. The current Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has pledged £400 million for tech transformation across the NHS and the UK’s sexual health sector would benefit greatly from tech solutions with the power to revolutionise the way advice and treatment is accessed.

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