Traditional outpatient treatment models are not always consistent with patients' needs and can be difficult to navigate, resulting in high rates of non-attendance at appointments and low patient participation, which leads to poor health outcomes and increased use of emergency care, as well as rising costs.
Any of these issues can be resolved by integrating new technology, such as using virtual outpatient appointments instead of face-to-face reviews of patients in the hospital. Adapting the ways in which our NHS staff serve people has been critical in continuing to provide high-quality treatment, a positive patient experience and preventing Covid-19 transmission during the pandemic. Our healthcare sector has the potential to transform the way we continue to provide essential services, whilst also improving patient care.
But how easy is the integration of these innovations into routine NHS practice?
On the 28th of October, we brought together a community of healthcare professionals for exclusive keynote sessions and insightful panel discussions on the greatest challenges in becoming a more technologically efficient health sector.
Our first session kicked off with Ibrahim Habli, BSC (AUB), MSc, PhD (York), Deputy Head of Department (Research), University of York, delivering an insightful keynote session exploring the gap between digital technologies and safe deployment of these to ensure these digital tools are user friendly for clinicians and safe for patients, by answering the following questions:
- How do clinicians and engineers analyse and justify digital health safety risks?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of current practice?
- What are key areas for improvement?
Followed shortly after by a Clinical Communication and Collaboration Panel Discussion with Graham Prestwich, Public and Patient Engagement Lead, YHAHSN; Matthew Philips, CNIO, Clinical Lead – Acute Intervention and clinical Site Team / Simulation and Resuscitation, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital; Catherine Wood, Head of Patient Experience, Breast Cancer Now, and Charlotte Stockton-Powdrell, Senior Project Manager, The University of Manchester.
Catherine Wood shared her experiences on how Covid has changed the way Breast Cancer Now cares for their patients and the benefits this has had on their services.
“Before COVID, working with healthcare professionals was usually always face to face”, she then added, “having to do things virtually is helping the NHS be more open to digital solutions and new ways of working, whereas previously there could be a fear of IT security or delays in getting sign off to try a new virtual platform – the system has had to innovate and move faster than it ever had to before which is opening up more opportunities to do things differently”.
Matthew Phillips also shared the changes made in his organisation due to the pandemic and how the switch from the traditional bleep system to Vocera massively benefited their workforce.
“Allowing ward staff to get decision making help, bedside senior help quickly was a top priority.”
Our audience had the pleasure of hearing insights from Graham Prestwich into the challenges and positive wins of digital innovation in healthcare and what roles patients can play in contributing to the progress.
“We saw a 50-60% increase in online consultations in the first few weeks of the pandemic” he later pleaded “There is a gap between doing things with patients and things being done to patients… So please can patients become more involved in the development and implementation of technologies, so we can be a part of the solution.”
Our host Helen Fospero asked Charlotte Stockton-Powdrell how mobile and web-based applications can be used to support clinical communications. The challenges involved in using apps to support clinical communications and the benefits these have in our sector.
“Some of the work we’ve done involved building web-based and mobile apps to help patients support on a regular basis”