Discover how an end-to-end patient pathway, smarter staff resourcing and patient-centric clouds can help community diagnostic centres get results

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Clear the backlog

More than 18 months on from “protect the NHS”, and two years since “get Brexit done”, here’s another three-word vow – “clear the backlog” – for which the government is staking its capital; both political and financial.

We’ve seen the sums – £2.3bn for diagnostic testing and, more recently, £248m to modernise diagnostics. Yet amid the big numbers and bold pledges, there remains little detail for how 100+ “one-stop-shop” community diagnostic centres (CDCs) will actually ease the elective care backlog.

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Extra diagnostic capacity is no bad thing. But in the absence of an integrated, digitally led pathway solution, we are unfortunately in danger of creating yet another bottleneck. More than that, as NHS worker shortages continue to grow, without staff to fill them, CDCs – and their shiny new scanners – risk becoming an expensive failure.

Making CDCs work is eminently possible. To deliver on the government’s pledge, there are three main areas to consider. And for each, digital infrastructure is key.

An end-to-end patient pathway

Simply bringing diagnostic services into community settings won’t in itself help reduce wait times. But building a streamlined, patient-specific journey, based on an end-to-end pathway can have a powerful impact. Why? Because ensuring healthcare professionals have the patient information they need across multiple care settings will help to deliver a better, faster service.

By using Bleepa – a pioneering digital comms platform – CDCs will have access to a patient-specific pathway that can plug into existing systems, and connect primary, secondary and other care settings alike. At once, this upgrades communications via collaborative, asynchronous working. Such innovation, alone, will drastically cut needless delays.

A pilot scheme is currently underway (at the Queen Victoria Hospital Foundation Trust, on behalf of the Sussex Integrated Care System) to put this infrastructure into action. As one of the UK’s first CDC sites, the Sussex pilot will act as a blueprint for how CDCs can be the time-saving, backlog-clearing success the government promised.

Smarter staff resourcing

The NHS talent drain won’t right itself overnight. What is needed in the short-term, however, is a targeted approach that leverages outsourced expertise that seamlessly links to the patient journey and doesn’t create a further clinical service silo.

As with extra diagnostic capacity, outsourced teleradiology and reporting is an important tool in the backlog-clearing armoury but it needs to be fully integrated into the wider clinical team. By using Bleepa – and the seamless, joined-up digital infrastructure it offers – a CDC can connect outsourced providers to its in-house clinical teams for case discussion instantly.

The upshot? Less waiting and, over time, a smaller backlog.

Patient-centric cloud architecture

With CDCs still so new, responsibility for data management and ownership as it flows through the system is unclear. With multiple care settings working together there is an increased need for centralised records that can be available to all stakeholders. So, what does that mean for the coming flood of studies and other sensitive information that needs safeguarding?

The patient records must be joined up, just as the patient journey is joined up.

For a fully future-proofed solution, Bleepa can again bridge the gap. With its CareLocker cloud data storage, data is available to the patient, hospital and regional providers alike. Even better, this is all designed around the individual, patient-by-patient; cloud-by-cloud and linked to their NHS number.

With every record kept in “glacier” storage until a patient becomes active within a CDC, CareLocker storage is more cost-efficient than traditional cloud models – as well as more effective. Long-term, could regionally centralised data be linked to other national systems such as the NHS spine in order to create a nationally available record?

As CDCs emerge on our high streets and in our communities, it’s fundamental that they aren’t just about increasing capacity but focus on creating a more connected workflow that cuts across provider settings with an agile and flexible digital infrastructure.

To help clear the backlog, Bleepa is ready to provide an end-to-end, patient-centric pathway, with an underlying data storage system that is ready to scale.