When the first wave of infections hit, we saw near-instant digital innovations that otherwise would have taken years: the rapid adoption of remote work platforms, shared nursing protocol projects, electronic health record configurations, and virtual clinics and consultations. NHS Digital has increased the capacity and reach of NHS 111 (the 24-hour phone and online service for people who need advice and information on urgent medical issues) and NHSX (which focuses on the digital transformation of health and social care ) has started a competition for remote monitoring technology.
The introduction of digital tools was observed in all sectors. It was particularly accelerated in the basic service. More than 70% of GP consultations in England were face-to-face prior to the coronavirus outbreak, but within weeks it was 23% according to a latest report from the Royal College of GPs (RCGP).
In addition, digital solutions enabled strong links to be made between health and research and provided a valuable understanding of the impact of the coronavirus, including treatment pathways and mortality. During the pandemic, some restrictions on data sharing were relaxed. This included data from the RCGP Research and Monitoring Center, where the number of participating practices doubled. Other programs, including Public Health England’s COVID-19 Observatory, have also been able to collect and analyze coronavirus data.
On a human level, an important part of this “digital revolution” was simply making patients and staff feel safer. Discussions at the NHS Confederation’s Primary Care Network (PCN) Clinical Directors’ meeting in July found that virtual consultations were particularly beneficial in giving staff the flexibility to work from home, for example when they need protection and save time. Consumption of commuters for patients and staff in rural areas.
A much-cited catalyst for change is that the crisis has created a common purpose and an urgency to make decisions. It has always been clear that doctors’ time is precious, but in many cases it has been a pandemic for many to clear their doubts and explore digital solutions that will enable them to meet patient needs. According to PCN clinical directors, electronic triage through software such as EMIS has been particularly effective in increasing capacity, and the information patients collected through online triage tended to be more efficient and of good quality. Where the software contained artificial intelligence, clinical directors could save even more time so staff could focus on where they could add the most value to patients.
The shift to digital solutions was also evident in the mental health services. Mental health management mobile apps have seen a surge in popularity around the world under Lockdown. According to Sensor Tower, a mobile app marketing intelligence company, the top ten English-language mental wellness apps in the world generated two million more downloads in April as the peak of the pandemic became a reality.
The development of this digital infrastructure at such a pace has been associated with innovation. While the government and the NHS frontline focused on making sure the service wasn’t overwhelmed, volunteers stepped in where there were gaps. For example, to create things like Tech4CV19, which provides a matchmaking service to connect NHS executives with health technology suppliers and connect health technology suppliers with sources of business support.
A second wave of digital transformation?
As the NHS seeks to reset, not just fix, the coronavirus emergency and reboot the integrated care agenda with the promise of a more responsive service to patients, there may be scope for a second wave of digital transformation. Part of the answer seems to be, as the saying goes, “keep it easy to be stupid”. This means maintaining and building on the beneficial changes we’ve seen so far by further investing and empowering those who have made them. We saw how the coronavirus pandemic fueled local innovation as employees were given the space and ability to solve problems. Therefore, it makes sense to listen to the advice of those who know the service best to help define successful next steps.
For example, primary care is not about the latest breakthrough technology, the RCGP is simply asking the government to ensure that GPs have the IT tools, skills, and broadband connections to also provide remote digital consultations as an investment in digital telecare -Tools. PCN’s clinical directors are keen to keep the new online ways of working by making virtual counseling platforms interoperable with the rest of the system so that different healthcare professionals can easily access and share patient data between different IT systems.
One area that is far from easy is ensuring that a new “digitized” service takes everyone on their journey and further builds public confidence in technology, research and population health management. This may not be easy as it is a key tenet of successful healthcare in the UK: the relationship between patient and service. Not everyone has access to the Internet, some do not have the confidence, the ability, the access or even the interest to use digital software and applications in this way. Some populations – such as people with disabilities, low-income households and the elderly – are particularly at risk of digital exclusion.
The next step in embedding this large-scale change may be less “sexy” than the fast, agile innovation that got us here. It is clear, however, that the service now needs the support of government and policy makers to set clear standards, expectations and guidelines for the appearance of good. For example, careful consideration must be given to whether or not to restore data backups that were temporarily loosened during the pandemic so that data exchange is not obstructed in order to improve treatment, care or research.
Fortunately, we can build on programs like Global digital examples and digital aspirants who aim to catalyze digital transformation, document travel, and enable the ministry to learn from the ministry. With these types of initiatives, we need to keep improving as not all systems start in the same place. Some are very digitally mature in terms of maintenance and operations, while others still have to invest in basic infrastructures like network bandwidth and new equipment.
Aside from embedding previous innovation, the next challenge for the NHS is to tackle a potential second wave linked to winter pressures and the inevitable surge in flu cases – alongside providing other services, including those that were postponed in the first phase Pandemic. This means that we should look for ways in which we can use digital solutions to ensure that there is an effective and efficient testing and tracing scheme in place to close coronavirus outbreaks as soon as possible.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been used elsewhere to speed up this process. The The World Health Organization has quoted China as an example of where a health system could improve diagnostic accuracy and availability of scales. AI-based tools for interpreting CT imaging have been used nationwide in hospitals to reduce CT reading time from hours to seconds. Other tools have enabled patients in community clinics to have their scan read by medical experts miles away to minimize the chances of losing track of infected individuals, expand diagnostic capabilities, and avoid overloading the healthcare workforce.
When we look to the immediate future, it is clear that we now face a double challenge: embedding in the NHS the digital transformation that we have seen so far, which has enabled increases in capacity and efficiency; and learn quickly from other health systems, including using less well-understood tools like AI. The short-term test of our success between now and the time a vaccine is detected will be whether we are able to leverage digital innovations to contain further outbreaks and prevent them from taking hold and jeopardizing health capacity . The longer-term test will be to determine whether we are able to embed change, empower employees, and modernize the way we work before missing out on the opportunity to put health and care services on a sustainable footing going forward.
Note: We are not the author of this content. For the Authentic and complete version,
Check its Original Source