Perspectives: How joined-up communications can enable connected patient care across healthcare Trusts

TTA has an open invitation to industry leaders to contribute to our Perspectives non-promotional opinion area. Today, we have a contribution from Dave O’Shaughnessy, Avaya’s Healthcare Practice Leader for EMEA and APAC. The subject is NHS England’s transition to an integrated care system and where a cloud-based communications system helps in patient engagement and care team coordination.

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Photo courtesy of Avaya

The new NHS’ integrated care system (ICS) aims to support patients across England with health and care that is ‘joined-up’ in its delivery from local councils, the NHS, and other partners. The aim is to remove the existing silos that separate hospitals, GPs, physical health, mental health, and council services from each other.

As each ICS region starts to prepare their 5-year plan, there is an opportunity for modern communications and collaboration technology solutions to play an important role in helping to address healthcare Trusts’ challenges as they work to deliver joined-up services across their ICS.

Connected Challenge

As part of a successful ICS, a Trust will need to deepen its relationship with a number of other stakeholders, including local councils, the voluntary community and social enterprise sector. This can be greatly facilitated by leveraging communications and collaboration services to improve experiences at both a local level as well as scaling the solution across the region. In this way, what were previously isolated pain points can be solved across the whole ICS.

Four Areas for Improvement

There are four key practice areas where cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions can help maximise the positive transformation of the patient and key worker experience – patient access to care, patient experience, team member experience, and collaboration across an ICS. Let’s add some details to these four areas:

  1. Improving patient access to care includes managing healthcare appointments, prescriptions, payments, and other everyday administrative tasks in a way that works effortlessly for all parties, constructive access to healthcare specialists where control of access is maintained by support staff, enabling more complex remote treatments and monitoring whilst maintaining a high quality of care; and effective, non-repetitive, digital data capture and organisation to reduce the administrative burden on both patients and staff.
  2. Creating an engaging patient experience includes integrating digital therapeutics to enhance and modernise traditional care, creating scalable, even automated on-demand patient health services to help avoid overwhelming hospital staff; ensuring these digital services are intuitive, easy to learn, and practically accessible to all patients and staff; creating more personalised and therefore meaningful care experiences cost-effectively and rooted in scientific and behavioural understanding.
  3. Enabling beneficial care-team coordination, to help staff focus on delivering healthcare services, will include being able to contact and communicate with the required staff resources (e.g. on-call specialists, hospital orderlies) with the minimum of effort or time-wasting steps; making best use of scarce specialist resources to tackle the elective backlog without adding to burnout, and leveraging the best features from communications and collaboration services to help remove frustrating siloes and operational complexities.
  4. Collaboration with healthcare providers across the ICS includes creating consistent, beneficial experiences across regions despite variations in age and quality of infrastructures; removing duplication or confusing patient treatments across Trusts and other care providers; maintaining compliant data governance and security to create ‘joined-up’ care without adding to staff burnout, reduction in hospital alarm notifications and messaging fatigue, and maintaining clear roles and responsibilities for transformation projects to prevent delays.

When collaboration and communications services are connected across the entire patient journey from before a visit, during a visit, and then after a visit, they become integral to the improvement of the total experience for patients, clinical staff, and back-office staff. It can be a good idea to start off by using a benchmarking tool to measure against industry standards, and so get a good idea of a healthcare provider’s innovation readiness.

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