05 March 2019
NHS Pushes Forwards with Digital Plans
From 70 years ago, technology has changed the way millions of people communicate with their GPs. And it is still transforming the healthcare industry as we know it today.
The NHS has put together a new plan to escalate the health system’s digital ambitions as it continues to battle with limited resources including a shortage of doctors versus the rising demand from an ageing population.
The four focuses within the new long-term plan include trialling devices such as digital inhalers, which will give NHS professionals the ability to monitor patients remotely. This is alongside the potential use of artificial intelligence to interpret CT and MRI scans, and a project to offer children with cancer the chance to sequence their genomes.
The fourth commitment that the NHS has promised to deliver is offering all Britons digital consultations that include video and telephone appointments.
The difficulty with relying on telephone appointments alone is that most of us begin to exaggerate when we are feeling poorly – man flu is the prime example! Therefore it can be difficult for doctors to really gauge the severity of an individuals’ condition just by a telephone conversation. This uncertainty can cause patients being advised to book unnecessary appointments that result in them be able to treat themselves at home for a minor ailment.
Having a video consultation can limit this as not only is the doctor relying on what the individual is saying, they can read body language and be shown any physical symptoms as well as hearing any, such as a cough. This will help them make a better decision of whether they can advise the patient there and then, or whether they need any further attention for example a physical examination which can include blood pressure tests, listening to the heart and chest etc. which cannot be achieved digitally.
Not only can video consultations decrease the number of appointments made for minor ailments, it can also reduce the amount of missed GP appointments that plague the NHS. Officials have said that “patients who miss GP appointments are costing NHS England £216m a year.” With data showing “more than 15 million consultations are being wasted because patients fail to show up.”
When patients do not cancel their appointments and misses them, this prevents it being made available to someone else who needs that time with their doctor. This does give the GP surgery some flexibility should they have individuals attend on the day without pre-booking. However as this isn’t guaranteed some surgeries will overbook to compensate the fact that some patients will not make an appearance.
Video consultations will make it easier for patients to speak with their doctors without leaving their house. One of the main age groups that are contributing to the high level of missed appointments is 16 to 30 year olds, it has been commented that the assisting factors behind their reasons for non-attendance include their attitude towards the NHS and seeing it as a consumer service, also their social standing which includes their financial situation. This age demographic is also the average age of technology users, meaning they would be more inclined to use digital methods of communication.
Implementing a video feed into your NHS organisation that also has web chat capabilities can help improve your operations. GPs are already integrating web chat software into their booking systems, allowing them to efficiently arrange appointments as more than one patient can be engaged with at any one time, reducing the limit of the number of phone lines.
This could be a simple solution to help patients easily cancel an appointment, it could even go as far as having a chatbot handle these enquiries and feed the information through to the surgeries receptionists to reduce their involvement and free up their time.
Click4Assistance has been providing communication channels for over 10 years; our clientele include many NHS organisations such as Arden and GEM CSU, Vale of York, Lea Vale, Health Scotland and CWP etc. For more information and help with implementing video consultations and/or web chat software into your operations, contact our team on 01268 524628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.