Developing new models and solutions such as care navigation and co-ordination, remote monitoring and multi-channel contact centres will go a long way in improving healthcare outcomes and experience. By Nicola Mortali
The level of transformation across the NHS within the last few months has been phenomenal. The pandemic has forced an acceleration across a number of areas. We must now ensure that we learn the lessons quickly, build on the great work, and move forwards before the system pressure over the next 12-18 months overwhelms us all. We have a once in a generational opportunity to fundamentally change the health and care system, to improve outcomes and perhaps finally deliver the vision of personalisation.
For years we have talked about patient-centred care but the reality has been to deliver services against the needs and priorities of the raft of provider organisations. Changing this requires whole needs assessment and then co-ordination of delivery against those needs.
Primary and community providers (including social care) need support to do this. They are not equipped to monitor a patient’s condition as emerging technologies now allow; they may struggle to provide the right early intervention to prevent deterioration that will lead to hospitalisation; they may not have the capacity or skills to encourage self-care or family support that may be more effective and lower-cost. The risk of not getting this right is significant; patients revert to spending longer in acute care, either through avoidable readmission or through delays in discharge where safe community options are not available.
We must collectively bring skills, expertise and capacity if we are going to successfully deliver a vision of a health and care system that is truly aligned to the full needs of the patients and their specific circumstances, to improve outcomes and experience
The care system is becoming increasingly complex and as a new care system model evolves, it’s clear that data (visibility and accuracy) is going to play a critical role in integration. If you then apply data analytics to work out what works best for patients with particular needs and personal circumstances, we could really start to make significant progress with integrated care.
There isn’t, however, going to be a “one size fits all” solution, a number of challenges will need to be met locally. The cumulative effect of dealing and continuing to deal with covid-19 patients as well as critical care, electives, long-term conditions and rehabilitation, in addition to winter pressures will overwhelm the acute hospitals. Local systems will need to develop a response that can flex in terms of capacity in line with local demographics and changing clinical needs, optimise the system flow through that capacity and retain the segregation of covid-19 and non-covid-19 patients so that we can continue to keep patients and staff safe.
A number of key questions will need to be answered, funding no doubt being high on that list. We hope, however, that a question over public and private sector relationships, how we’ve pulled together through the crisis, delivering complex solutions, will be in no doubt. We’ve demonstrated what can be done together, with pace and focus. There is a small window to act. Organisations such as Serco are working with the system to develop and deliver solutions such as care navigation and co-ordination, remote monitoring and multi-channel contact centres. We are working on new models to make this happen.
We must collectively bring skills, expertise and capacity if we are going to successfully deliver a vision of a health and care system that is truly aligned to the full needs of the patients and their specific circumstances, to improve outcomes and experience. If the government is not to increase taxes, we must do more with less, and that should be the aim of all delivering health and care services.