From the ways patients interact with their care to improving coordination across the health and care system, it’s widely accepted that digital technology is not just an opportunity for the NHS but a necessity. Jason Cooper, Patient Services Director at ExtraMed, looks at how Trusts can ease the transition to digital.
As part of the Five Year Forward View, the government invested £4bn into a digital transformation programme to help NHS Trusts implement their own strategies. However, some studies have reported slow progress, suggesting there are challenges that investment alone cannot fix.
Struggling to implement new systems?
Digital transformation is a broad term but, whatever the specifics, many Trusts would agree they are struggling to mobilise digital technology to make data, processes and systems. One of the most significant hurdles to change seems to be the incredible variety of separate systems in use and the reliance on legacy systems.
Can Trusts realise the Five Year Forward View?
Whilst £4bn is a lot of money, it isn’t enough to replace all the systems that aren’t suitable for the digital age. Even if the deadline for implementation of the Five Year Forward View is delayed, the challenge remains the same. The real benefits will come not from using digital technology but from joining up the IT of health and care services, so they work together.
Digital transformation is an opportunity to be more proactive and joined-up about patients’ care. At ExtraMed, we see the key priorities to realising value as follows:
- Getting information to where it’s needed in the patient’s journey – from GP to bedside to social care and all points in between,
- Leveraging software to support frontline staff, helping them do their jobs and freeing up time for patient care – using proactive alerting, monitoring and resource requesting,
- Replacing paper-based recording and notes with digital data capture – whether its patient notes, observations or bed availability,
- Informing and engaging patients in their care without adding overhead on frontline staff – sharing elements of their care plan and making self-care content available, so they know what’s happening next and what needs to happen before they are discharged, and
- Improving the amount, quality and timeliness of data available to understand, respond and plan for services across the whole healthcare economy.
Overlaying existing systems to take data where it’s needed
The ExtraMed Digital Platform doesn’t attempt to replace underlying systems. Instead, it securely overlays existing systems to unify them and make applications and data available where they’re needed. It doesn’t require a ‘big bang’ implementation and can be rolled out at the pace of your transformation programme. However, you can start making progress and seeing the benefits straight away.