It looks like NHS England has finally woken up to the advantages of embracing digital technologies to improve patient care and drive efficiencies throughout the whole organisation. Championed by Tim Kelsey, Director of patient care and information for NHS England a new initiative has been presented at the recent Health & Care innovation Expo.
The NHS is encouraging commissioners and providers to adopt modern, digital working practices by putting in place new levers and incentives and introducing new governance measures for assessing how far healthcare services are supported by effective use of technology.
By April 2016, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), working with local authority partners and providers of care, must submit delivery plans for how they will eradicate the use of paper in the treatment of patients across all health and care services in their region by 2020.
At times we assume that the private sector, being unshackled from the constraints of the behemoth of the NHS, is more advanced in many areas of health and care provision, especially perhaps in the area of adopting technology and digital solutions in the planning, management, provision and assessment of patient care. It would be true to report that this is correct for many organisations but in our experience that would be too broad an assessment of the reality.
Working at the coal face in providing training for care staff we are aware that the day to day duties resulting from providing care can sometimes be overwhelming. Care providers have to process a huge amount of information relating to each service user. Making systems more streamlined and access to records more efficient will have a huge positive impact on the entire care industry and therefore immediate benefits for those who receive care. When we do come across an organisation that has implemented modern systems, trained staff on how they work and put them into general use the change and transformation is immediately noticeable.
Change is hard to manage and can sometimes make people react negatively. From our day to day interaction with care providers we get an insight to some current working practices, for example, I recently witnessed two staff members completing the relevant paperwork relating to a death in a care home, and faxing copies off to various organisations. This was a prime example of how paperwork can distract from the delivery of care by being time consuming and in most cases antiquated. If providers can make these processes more efficient and align themselves with other sectors of health and social care, then the service user will benefit.
At Redcrier we have developed several digital forms of training that will help with the planned transition from paper based documents to digital, IT lead solutions to be ahead of the curve and take some of the stress out of the change.
With emerging technology developing at a furious pace even the changes within the NHS will most probably roll out faster than we all think. You have to therefore ask yourself ‘Are we prepared for the digital revolution in health care?’ and ‘Do we have a plan to have systems in place to improve efficiencies, improve the patient and customer experience and not only keep pace with the NHS developments but keep ahead of your competitors?’
If you are not able to answer the above two questions with truth and conviction then you will soon be passed over by more than your customers.