Microsoft demonstrates how several health organisations have successfully transformed their service delivery
“A crystal ball isn’t required to foresee the pivotal role of information, data and technology in supporting efficiencies within the [health and social care] sector next year,” said HSCIC Chief Exec, Andy Williams, in a recent article on the future of healthcare.
Both the Department of Health and the NHS are committed to delivering a ‘digital first’ health and care system to deliver innovative and patient-driven health services across the UK. Indeed, in February of this year, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the government will invest £4.2 billion in NHS technology over the next five years. This aims to deliver a paperless NHS, and improve service delivery through a series of initiatives, both online and face-to-face.
Furthermore, Hunt has appointed Dr Bob Wachter, a professor at the University of California and author of the bestselling book ‘The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age’, to lead a review of the use of technology in the NHS.
Different technologies have been used by a number of healthcare organisations to improve key areas of delivery already. This includes putting patients in control of their data and improving the speed and way in which information is recorded, shared and acted upon in to better deliver care.
We show how several health organisations have been able to transform their service delivery.
Stroke diagnosis via Skype for Business
In the case of medical conditions with a sudden onset – such as strokes and heart attacks – the speed of diagnosis and commencement of appropriate initial treatment can have a huge impact on the overall severity of the condition, and the extent to which the patient can recover.
Historically, if consultants are off-site or they are required outside of normal working hours this can result in delays in diagnosis, at times when a swift intervention can have a huge impact on the chances of the patient making a full recovery.
Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has tackled this issue by using Skype for Business to dramatically improve the way in which patients suffering from strokes are treated in the immediate aftermath of a stroke.
As soon as symptoms occur, patients can be connected with a consultant via Skype – regardless of the time of day – instead of either party having to travel, enabling the correct diagnoses to be made swiftly and for the appropriate actions to be taken without unnecessary delays.
Click here to learn more about the Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust
East Kent improves treatment with Microsoft Azure
Making sure that the right people have access to the latest patient information via a secure environment, wherever they are, enables decisions to be made as and when the information is available, resulting in swifter treatment for the patient.
Utilising the security, reliability and scalability of Microsoft Azure, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust developed a solution alongside Microsoft partner Careflow to resolve the issue of delays in communication, and the failure of important information being transmitted between carers.
Working with the Information Governance Department, the Systems Managers at East Kent were able to ensure that Careflow on Azure was fully compliant, resulting in a secure system that delivers timely information to healthcare professionals. Users are also informed who has seen the alert, when they saw it, what they have done about it, and any other comments. This context allows for decisions to be made a lot sooner and for treatment to progress at the fastest pace it can.
Click here to learn more about how Careflow is empowering better decision making and treatment in East Kent
Engaging patients in their treatment with ‘self-care’ service VitruCare
As technology makes it easier for patients to engage with the care process, health organisations are able to improve delivery while cutting costs. For example, allowing patients to contribute data to their records without having to see their GPs can reduce the number of GP appointments. This saves the practice time and money, as well as improving the patient experience.
This was certainly the case in Bradford, where the Phoenix Medical Practice was able to deliver significant cost savings by trialling a new approach to patient consultations using VitruCare – an internet delivered ‘self-care’ service provided by Dynamic Health Systems – which utilises Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Azure.
By supplying the patient with a range of wearable tech and other devices, they can securely record data such as blood pressure, weight, exercise activity and other daily measurements into the VitruCare dashboard.
Knowing a patient’s everyday health means that the GP or carer is able to schedule appointments proactively, but also provides the incentive for patients to take an interest in their own health and well-being, which could prevent a build-up of health problems.
Click here to learn more about VitruCare and patient engagement
Making mental health care more readily available via Skype for Business
For patients being treated for mental health issues, technology offers a viable alternative to having to make time for regular face-to-face appointments. When patients have an issue resulting in a Did Not Attend, this causes delays and disruption to other patients.
Moving consultations to a simple voice phone call is not the most effective solution, however, as body language, eye contact and other facial expressions are additional indicators that help with a carer’s measure of a patient’s wellbeing.
Through Skype for Business, the team at SW London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust have been able to see and hear patients via video calling, removing the need for unnecessary travel and disruption to their work lives.
Patient are able to schedule a call at a convenient time, avoiding the need to take time off from work and potentially having to disclose very private and difficult information to their employers or colleagues.
The availability of Skype for Business on a wide variety of devices has seen patients quick to embrace the technology, and the use of video calling by the team at the Trust has allowed them to communicate with the deaf community through sign language, without the need for face-to-face appointments.
Click here to learn more about the use of Skype for Business at SW London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust
As evidenced, swift and accurate transfer of information between patients, doctors and staff when it comes to caring for individuals – whether it be a timely emergency diagnosis or a routine follow up appointment – can make a huge difference to the way healthcare is delivered. Technology can facilitate and accelerate this process, connecting people in the quickest and easiest ways possible in order to commence or continue the care pathways in the most appropriate and convenient manner.
Below is a short video demonstrating the impact Skype for Business is already having across a range of different areas of healthcare, by connecting people when it matters the most: