Nobody could have anticipated that when NHSX was founded a year ago we’d find ourselves battling the greatest challenge the country has faced since WW2.
And yet here we are...
The NHSX transformation programme was launched to support the delivery of Matt Hancock’s Tech Vision for the healthcare sector, focusing on 5 key missions:
- Reduce the burden on our workforce, so they can focus on delivering care;
- Give people the tools to access information and services directly, so they can best take charge of their own health and care;
- Ensure information about people’s health and care can be safely accessed, wherever it is needed;
- Aid the improvement of safety across health and care systems; and
- Improve health and care productivity with digital technology.
As part of delivering the programme, technology providers were invited to join in the conversation, to help ensure that health and care services meet the needs of individuals and are enabled by the right technology for the best experience and outcomes.
The big question for us as a technology provider is: has anything changed? Reaching the peak of the crisis may mean we’ve now fought the initial Covid-19 battle, but we’re told this is likely to be a long war so are the missions still relevant?
If anything, the missions have become even more important for whatever the post-Covid-19 world holds, and in some cases have been vastly accelerated by recent events. In this, the first of our NHSX blog series, we look at each mission and how the landscape has changed - if at all.
Mission one: Reduce the burden on our workforce, so they can focus on delivering care.
During Covid-19 this isn’t just an NHSX mission, it has become the mission for the country. It’s the very reason the majority of us are adhering to the lockdown rules and staying home: to protect the NHS and support them as they deliver care to the people who need it most.
It’s the digital world that’s helping us all get through this crisis, enabling us to communicate and function within the constraints of lockdown. It will be what helps pull us out of it through contact tracing apps. And it’s the digital world that’s also enabling a proportion of the healthcare service to continue to deliver patient care while maintaining social distancing. The constraints are forcing the hand of even the most reticent to digital change - for example, with face to face appointments no longer possible unless for emergencies, GPs have turned to online consultations to support their patients. And frontline healthcare workers are helping patients stay connected to their loved ones through apps and devices. It’s been used, and it works.
If there’s one positive that’s potentially come out of this terrible crisis it could be that it’s accelerated the change in mindset the NHS needed to embrace the digital world to its full potential. Indeed Matt Hancock himself recently admitted that many GPs will now most likely continue to use the online processes that have been unwittingly thrust upon them.
The key is to continue to ride the wave of accelerated digital adoption to relieve the burden on the NHS, so that clinicians and patients can continue to benefit from all it has to offer - from improvements in communication to better access to clinical expertise, reduced travel for patients to reduced administrative workload for practice staff. This has been important throughout Covid-19 and will continue to be so in the future. Now that many aspects of the NHS have been able to experience the benefits first hand, the tide may turn on being more receptive to future innovation to keep the momentum going long after we see the back of Coronavirus.
Unified communications has come to the fore, enabling clinicians and patients to communicate remotely. What’s as important though, is to take a step back and question if the solutions that were brought in as a reactive measure to deal with an emergency situation are still the right ones for the future. Taking stock, making sure it’s fit for future purpose, secure and gives patients and staff what they need should now be the next step in the process.