Working closely with healthcare professionals operating on both the frontline and in leadership roles, Liam Cahill (Founder and Healthtech Advisor at Together Digital) understands the requirements of healthcare staff when it comes to digital transformation, as well as the opportunities of tech for improving patient care.
In his second guest blog, Liam discusses how flexible, interoperable tech can power efficiencies and drive much improved patient engagement.
If you run a clinical service, or represent the digital interests of operational teams in a frontline organisation, you’ll know that when winter pressures begin to thaw, that the beleaguered services deserve time and space to recover. Unfortunately whilst Easter comes a little later this year, another pressure will begin to take form - planning for improvement and progress in NHS 2023/24.
I’m often asked to present to both frontline and leadership teams about what the future of care looks like for clinical services as digital technologies play a greater role, and also the importance of this being driven by the clinical workforce. Many are excited and energised by the prospect of how digital can support better, more personalised and preventative outcomes for their patients. After all, these same clinicians see the human impact of health events that could have been prevented.
Yet, with each tantalising prospect of care transformation, there often is a sobering reality that there are few signs of these technologies now, and that great transformation requires great energy to make that shift. Right now, after such a challenging winter, and with ongoing workforce pressures, continuing demand, high waiting times, and new efficiency drives, the work ahead must feel not only daunting, but virtually impossible.
We all know that for the NHS to get into a better position, we will need to reform and transform our way out of it, and most services I work with are keen to improve how they support their patients and each other. Yet often many of the digital systems and tools create extra work, and the need for workarounds. They lack the flexibility that services need to cater to different patient needs, and that often fails to solve the most pressing care problems that may create the biggest benefit.
So what do services say they want?
Well, firstly, whilst a specific service will have varying problems they wish to solve, different patient needs and different stakeholders to work with, there are some commonalities that I’ve seen when working with services:
- Flexible tools not fixed systems - Complex patients require flexibility, not a cookie cutter process, and if services are to apply technology then it needs to allow them to be flexible and creative. I’ve seen so many times how teams with flexible tools find numerous ways to solve problems in real time that we’d never have planned for in the early stages.
- Ways to functionally engage and communicate with patients - Healthcare is largely a communications business and often technology can represent an area where cracks appear. If new virtual models and place-based care concepts are to be realised, then services need to find ways to support and communicate with patients in different ways, remotely.
- Things being in the same place - when sitting down with most teams and asking them what annoys them, one of the top of the list is the amount of logins and passwords in different systems that don’t talk to each other. “Why can’t it be in one place?” is a common theme.
- Accessible and integrated interfaces - I once heard a clinician express that they deserve a good user experience, too. You could take that further and suggest that technology that is difficult to use, or functionally problematic, leads to mistakes where the patient may pay the cost. Sometimes an extra zero can have dramatic consequences, and often clinical teams would like better safeguards as they use more technology.
- Increase efficiency without compromising care quality - With constant workforce challenges, and rising demand year on year, technology needs to make work more efficient, not less so. Again, with the right flexible and secure tools, services will find ways to work more efficiently.
When advocating for your services you’ll likely have heard the same views, and from teams that may have not had great experiences with IT projects in the past. To foster the goodwill of operational colleagues and offer positive transformation experiences, selecting the right technology that offers the greatest number of benefits, whilst limiting the amount of stress and change management, will be critical.
If improving communications is one of those areas, I know from experience how hard and emotionally intensive shifting communication channels can be, especially for those services who can’t afford to slow down or miss a beat, which is many.
This is why taking another look at where email communication can be transformed in the right way, and offer greater functionality, safety and flexibility should not be overlooked when considering transformation. This is why a growing number of NHS trusts and local systems are taking a look at the capability that Zivver offers.
To understand how Zivver can support your organization, watch a demo or learn more.
More for your healthcare organization:
Last updated - 05/06/23