5th February 2021
by Matt Barnes
Head of Health and Housing at Maintel
We’ve spoken before about how the healthcare market is undergoing significant change, driven by greater demands from government and the rising expectations of citizens. Historically, the healthcare market has had a cautious approach to deploying new non-clinical technology, but the pace of digital transformation has accelerated over the past year across all settings. And, with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise and the U.K entering a second national lockdown, it’s safe to say that digital innovation is vital as the public relies on healthcare providers like never before.
So, what does innovation in healthcare look like in 2021? We predict four key areas of development that will drive innovation:
For many trusts, their Sustainability and Transformation plan (STP) includes a myriad of objectives; ranging from improved health outcomes, to better patient experience, increased care providers at home, and more choice about where and when you receive treatment. Regardless of how these various priorities in this plan might differ between healthcare organisations, the ultimate goal remains the same – to enhance support and healthcare offerings to the community. And innovative technology can go a long way in helping to achieve this goal by providing better visibility, better control, and better security.
Manual records are problematic for a number of reasons; with them comes the increased likelihood of transcription errors, the loss of important information, potential security risks, duplication, and time spent away from the patient’s bedside. But, with many healthcare organisations driving their digital journey by migrating services to the cloud, this is changing.
Cloud-based highly agile and scalable systems enable clinicians to utilise electronic records, streamline previously manual processes, and access vital information securely at the bedside. This will lead to a reduction in time-consuming manual processes, reduce errors, ensure the safekeeping of confidential and sensitive data, and improve both the employee and patient experience.
Information at the bedside is not the only place healthcare employees require easy and consistent access, however. With more employees than ever adopting an agile and remote working culture, the ability to work from anywhere and at any time, with sustained access to all necessary tools is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it is essential Healthcare settings have benefitted from moving to cloud-based technology and we have seen everything from WiFi extensions, to APs at home in order to provide those that can work from home with access to the corporate network, for example.
Healthcare staff must continue to be prepared for their workforce to work remotely – especially as lockdown drives workers back to the home office – so providing technology that adapts and evolves, whilst delivering flexible and reliable capabilities, will ensure staff can stay productive and collaborative.
The expectations of patients are evolving, and – much as they would in a commercial setting – they anticipate an engaging, timely, and dynamic experience. Couple this with the increase in communications and decrease in physical appointments that COVID has created, and the need for innovation is clear.
Moving away from restrictive on-site appointments and siloed telephony systems means that patients can be engaged with quickly, dynamically and – most importantly – remotely, via online and video consultations. This move to digital appointments provides both patient and clinician with better access to real-time healthcare data, and ensures appointment setting, obtaining prescriptions, and requesting advice are much more accessible.
There is no doubt that the digital transformation of healthcare is – and will continue to be – a mammoth task. Although breakthroughs in coronavirus vaccinations are taking place, retreating to the old normal of service provision is no longer feasible nor desirable. COVID-19 is bringing opportunity for higher levels of innovation.