Accident and Emergency crisis – is there an answer? Read our guest post from Zameel Panthakkalakath

Zameel Panthakkalakath
Zameel Panthakkalakath

As regular readers know one of the big interested of this blog is the use of social media and communications technology to improve patient care and outcome.  So we are delighted to present a guest post by Zameel Panthakkalakath which looks at the uses of smartphones as a way of dealing with the current A&E crisis.  What do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

With hospitals reportedly at breaking point due to record numbers of emergency admissions, arguments rage about the root cause of the problems. And as the election approaches, chances of anything more than soundbyte analysis are becoming increasingly slim: apparently, with a sufficient dose of money and staff, all will be well.

What’s not well publicised is that in fact, spending on healthcare is continually increasing, and we’re not seeing the problems being solved. Public expenditure on the NHS doubled between 1997 and 2012, in real terms, yet we’re seeing increasingly poor value for money. The current A&E crisis is just one symptom of this. More cash will act as a sticking plaster providing temporary relief, but it won’t heal the underlying ailment – which is that healthcare delivery systems haven’t kept pace with advances in treatment capabilities and changes in demand. This makes for huge amounts of inefficiency and waste within the system, no matter how hard staff are working and how many hours they put in.

The good news is that the problems are fixable. By redesigning services and processes from scratch to reflect current day needs and incorporate new technologies, we can make resources go much, much further.

The A&E situation gives us some clues about where to start. In 2012-2013, 34.4% of patients visiting A& E received guidance/advice only. Before accusing people of going to A&E unnecessarily, it’s important to remember few people set off to spend hours in a hospital waiting room unless they are genuinely worried. What’s needed is a system that gives people practical alternatives. How many of these 6.3 million people could, for example, have been dealt with more quickly and cheaply had they been able to talk to a doctor over the phone or online?

Whilst some symptoms clearly need hands-on investigation, others do not. Computers and smartphones are bringing us a range of new ways to communicate that don’t require doctor and patient to be face-to-face in the same room. Ofcom figures, for example, show us that at the end of March 2013, 51% of UK adults owned a smartphone and that this rose rapidly over the year to reach a figure of 61% by the end of March 2014. Smartphones offer both internet access and the option to take and send high quality photos and video that doctors could be using for diagnosis.  A short phone or online consultation could very easily give people the information and reassurance they need at far less cost to the NHS than a visit to A&E would involve.

It’s time to look at radical infrastructure reforms that use resources more effectively and look forward to further advances rather than continuing to patch up old systems.  Reorganize the way we deal with non-emergency cases and we’ll achieve two very important goals. One, faster help for those non-emergency patients, and two, safer, high quality care from less pressurized emergency services for those who are in urgent need of hospital care.


Zameel Panthakkalakath is a healthcare entrepreneur and consultant committed to improving the patient experience through innovative healthcare delivery.

Having gained practical experience as a medical doctor earlier in his career, his focus is now on finding ways for healthcare services to improve efficiency and cut waste. He believes smartphone medical photography has a key role to play in this, as one of the many elements in emerging mobile health technologies.

He’s keen to share knowledge and help both patients and doctors make the most of the potential of smartphone photography for improved healthcare.

Connect with Zameel and iPhone Medical Photography:

Website | Facebook | Twitter  | Google+

Out of Step – an online marketplace where people with disabilities can find a path to economic success .A guest post from Nikki Zimmerman.

Nikki ZimmermanWelcome to a guest post from Nikki  Zimmerman of Out of Step.   Out of Step is a revolutionary way of assisting people with various disabilities to sell their skills and enter the workplace. PatientTalk.Org  are proud to suuport what we believe to be a fantastic initiative for the disabled community.

Nikki is the founder of Out of Step (, an innovative online marketplace where people with disabilities can find a better path to economic success by selling products or services. As the mother of a daughter with a disability, Nikki saw the need for a modern tool to employ each individual’s talents and strengths rather than focus on the disability. Nikki is the author of “A Life with Riley” and lives in the Northwest USA

“I feel like the Out of Step tool has had this tremendous positive effect on my life, and on me. I feel motivated, I am happier, I feel more confident and worry a lot less.” – Christy Lloyd, Portrait Artist and a Member of Out of Step.

As the founder of Out of Step, a new, free website where people with disabilities can offer services or sell products, I get inspiring emails like this almost daily. When I dreamt of a marketplace for those with disabilities, I knew it would be an amazing place for people to showcase their skills and earn money. But it’s proved way more valuable – we’re motivating individuals to move forward and believe in possibilities again…or in some cases for the first time.

Our team launched the Out of Step tool because we believe people with disabilities can and do want to work. We’re proudly “out of step” with the notion that people with disabilities have to continue within a nearly 70 percent unemployment rate. On our website, members with a disability show their industriousness every time they create a profile to sell a product or service.

Through the Out of Step tool, consumers can now find all sorts of great things, from books to industrial tools and dating services to computer help…all by people who happen to have a disability.

We have a seller in Tennessee providing rental dirt track karts to the general public. The karts can be used on a half mile contoured dirt track. There is nothing like it in the US. 15 minutes of absolute fun. Oh yeah – and he is blind.

Another member created a company called Wheel New York, which is creating a mobile accessibility app. As a person in a wheelchair, he knows firsthand the challenges of getting around the city.

The inspiration for Out of Step came from my daughter Riley, who was disabled but still wanted to have purpose. Her passion was folding laundry, and our family dreamed of helping her open Riley’s Laundry Service. While her illness didn’t allow that to come to fruition, my goal is to provide a solution for others with a disability.

Before launching, we reached out coast-to-coast to connect with the disability community – both those with disabilities and the agencies that serve them. We heard two important themes about the search for economic opportunity:

  1. People with disabilities want real solutions that are truly designed for their participation. No more platitudes and feel good programs.
  2. Many of the agencies that work with people with disabilities are lacking the tools necessary to provide those real solutions. Rather than take someone on unrealistic job interviews, they want modern, innovative options. And in a difficult, transitioning economy, their work has become so much more challenging.


The Out of Step tool was created with one thing in mind: to help people with disabilities find better economic success. We believe in each and every person with a disability – and that showcasing their skills and talents will change the way people with disabilities are seen by all.