Care Pathways

13.05.20

How healthcare services are pivoting during the pandemic

Stuart Brown, service manager of Living Well, Taking Control

Pressure on the NHS has been mounting for many years. By the end of 2019, it was reported that 4.6 million people were waiting for hospital treatment and 1.4 million people had unmet need for social care.

Increased demand for services was driven by an ageing population and, regrettably, unhealthy lifestyle choices. Every three minutes a new patient was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and one in 10 hospital admissions a day was a patient suffering from the condition.

None of this, however, compares to the challenges the NHS has faced in 2020. Its ability to deliver life-saving care has been under daily scrutiny – and it has risen to the challenge.

The health service has proven itself to be adaptable and agile. Looking beyond the rapid increase in critical care capacity, it has implemented changes to everyday services which may have otherwise taken years to realise.

So, how have leaders accelerated change to meet the changing needs of patients? And how can they continue to adapt to support healthier lifestyle choices?

Embracing technology

Patients have been avoiding face-to-face contact unless absolutely necessary. Yet health conditions persist, and people continue to need information and support.

Many practices have embraced technology to reach patients and prevent conditions from worsening in lockdown. Video and telephone services, for example, allow people at risk of long-term health conditions to get the care they need. A high-quality personal service – tailored to meet the needs of local communities – can continue.

 Stuart Brown portrait

Stuart Brown, service manager of Living Well, Taking Control 
 

The widening use of technology presents a significant opportunity to reach more parts of society and deliver more positive lifestyle changes. However, healthcare leaders can be overwhelmed by the volume of applications on the market. ORCHA – the world’s leading health app evaluation and advisor organisation – is a good place to start for health and social care organisations to make the right decisions.

Welcoming collaboration

The crisis response has extended far beyond the frontline. The NHS, whilst not a charity, has welcomed millions of pounds of donations. Charities, non-profits and private organisations have manufactured and donated critical life-saving equipment such as face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and gowns. Healthcare services whose staff were able to work remotely have diverted their supplies and re-deployed workers.

Throughout the crisis, the healthcare sector has been open and collaborative. The strongest leaders will continue to welcome support from partners and communities to deliver the best possible long-term care.

Planning for the future

The coronavirus crisis is not over. We may have passed the peak – according to the Prime Minister – however the risk of a second wave remains. We are also yet to find out the long-term impact of the lockdown on other critical health conditions. A prolonged period of inactivity carries clear risks.

Leaders have proven themselves to be adaptable. They must now use the lessons they have learnt during the pandemic to meet future demand for services. By fully embedding technology, mobilising people and resources, and collaborating with the wider community, they will turn reactive responses into enduring gains.

Positive change has been accelerated – and with this comes greater opportunity to help more people make healthier lifestyle choices. Prevention is critical to reduce long-term pressure on our national health service.

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