Today’s burgeoning technology industry has led the British public to expect an incredibly high level of technological advancement in every aspect of day-to-day life. In the past, the NHS has struggled to keep up with ever-changing user demands. One area in particular in which NHS technology has struggled to evolve at a sufficient pace is communication. A recent study, for example, showed that the NHS still relies heavily on fax machines for communication and the sharing of patient information.
The NHS’ new plans to offer a more “joined up” service across its organisations and wider partners will not prevail without a strong foundation in place, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration between each of its many facets.
In the NHS of the future, staff will no longer be required to be in the same place to attend meetings, nor will patients be required to be physically present in order to request prescriptions, book appointments, or even engage with their doctor.
The issue with communication in the NHS
At present, the NHS is unable to communicate with all of its departments, staff and wider partners in a meaningful way that facilitates hassle-free collaboration.
A number of NHS organisations do not have access to the technology necessary to aid dynamic collaboration practices, such as videoconferencing or secure live file sharing. This is significantly hindering teams’ ability to collaborate in real time.
Of course, this lack of fluid communication negatively impacts patient experiences. It increases response times and slows down vital services. For example, a lack of swift communication increases the number of days for which healthy patients are not discharged, thus delaying the renewed availability of their much-needed hospital beds.
How can effective communication improve patient experiences?
Unified communications are crucial in the delivery of “joined up” healthcare experiences. Whilst the current focus is on improving the collaboration between staff and departments, the NHS of the future will also encourage dynamic communication between organisations and their patients.
Putting patients’ time to good use
Wi-Fi technology is already being installed in hospital and GP surgery waiting rooms throughout the country, which in turn leads to a whole host of opportunities for new communications tools to be implemented. Firstly, Wi-Fi enables patients to put the time they spend in hospital or at their local GP “to good use”. For example, Wi-Fi could allow patients to check-in on their phones when they arrive for an appointment, or use their phones to update their personal details whilst they wait to be seen. The NHS of the future will align its process with typical patient behaviour, letting patients update their records through a mobile app, just as they would their bank details.
Helping patients feel more in control
Going forward, the possibilities are endless for applications and communication tools such as these. The NHS of the future will see patients, not just renewing their prescriptions remotely, but requesting prescriptions too. This request will then be sent to a GP to approve, before being automatically sent to the local pharmacy, with an automated notification being sent back to the patient when their prescription is ready to be picked up. This would even allow for the use of Über-esque technology, whereby the patient is able to track their prescription’s location on its “journey” to the pharmacy, or for push notifications to inform the patient of when medication should be taken. Developments such as this will enable patients to feel more in control of their healthcare.
Providing patients with a higher quality of service
The NHS of the future will be able to use the information that it collects to provide a better service to its patients. For example, if hospitals have up-to-date information on their patients, then a patient’s records can be auto-retrieved as soon as they contact NHS services. The NHS of the future will be centred around exploiting technology in order to streamline patient experiences. This will help to cut costs, reduce wasted time and improve overall patient experiences. By collecting data on which patients utilise which services, for how long, and their overall experience, NHS organisations are able to make better and more informed operational and commercial decisions.
Improving staff communication
The NHS of the future will hold multidisciplinary meetings, bringing together representatives from the NHS and its wider partners, facilitated by tools such as videoconferencing and secure cloud file sharing capabilities. Staff will no longer need to be in the same physical location in order to hold meetings; they will be able to collaborate from different offices, different regions, or when on the road between meetings. This will streamline communications and ultimately speed up vital services, freeing up hospital beds. Of course, this also aligns with the existing plans for a greater level of collaboration within the NHS, as well as the development of an increasingly symbiotic relationship between NHS bodies and the wider health and social care community.
4C Strategies – Healthcare technology consultants
In the future, healthcare technology will be required to tailor itself to the changing behaviours of the internet generation. This generation is highly accustomed to accessing everything on a mobile phone, even those services that handle sensitive information, so why would healthcare operate in a way that contradicts this ethos?
4C Strategies is a group of ICT consultants that has been assisting organisations in the healthcare sector for over 18 years. In that period, our consultants have helped over 60 NHS Trusts in a number of different technology areas, revolutionising communications, improving data security and ultimately enhancing patient experiences.
To book a free consultation, contact 4C Strategies today on 01858 438938, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.