By Nick Wilson, MD of Public Sector, Health & Care at Advanced.
While no health system is perfect, every nation strives to drive efficiencies, free up time for patient care and save costs. The UK is no exception and the pressure on our NHS services has become a catalyst for change – one that requires technology to reshape how things are done both here in the UK and worldwide. A report released this week from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), claims that the NHS could save £12.5 billion a year – 10% of its annual budget – and gain hundreds of man hours, which staff need to care for patients, by investing in automation.
As a respected developer of technology for the NHS for over 20 years, Advanced has been working hard to ensure the UK is recognised as a leader in healthcare innovation. As a result, many other healthcare providers are already turning to the NHS, which has recently revealed several successful digital transformation projects, for inspiration. This year’s Healthcare Innovation Mission to India demonstrated how eager India is to learn from the UK and transform its healthcare system to positively impact the lives of millions of people.
The event saw Advanced champion its Great British innovative digital solutions developed in partnership with, and deployed throughout, the NHS, these solutions included Financial Management, Electronic Prescription Management, Spend Control and its new virtual health assistant mobile app, Ask NHS. In addition to its trade mission to India, Advanced is also working with ambulance services and healthcare bodies in Australia and New Zealand.
Closer to home, Advanced is working with NHS England and NHS Digital to introduce an Electronic Prescription Solution within integrated urgent care services. Following a successful pilot, the service is now being rolled out nationally. It allows patients seeking out-of-hours, urgent care (such as walk-in centres and minor injuries units), or advice through NHS 111, to have their prescriptions sent electronically to a pharmacy. This not only frees up doctors to spend more time on patient care but enables the sector to meet the evolving expectations of today’s digitally-empowered patients.
Back in March, Jeremy Hunt the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care pledged that every patient in England should be able to access their medical records and book an appointment with a GP via an app by the end of 2018. Supporting this pledge is West Midlands Integrated Urgent Care Alliance which recently announced the results of a trial using Ask NHS. It’s been empowering patients across the region to self-assess in preference to contacting a health service. The app, created by Advanced and Sensely, uses an evidence driven system based on statistical analysis to guide self-assessment of acute symptoms, the provision of self-care advice, and triage to the most appropriate services, all of which help to reduce the burden on an overstretched NHS.
One Health Lewisham, a federation of all 38 GP surgeries in the borough, is also deploying Ask NHS which it hopes will help GPs better manage patient demand and reduce the burden on doctors. The app will be rolled out across three “early adopters” – ICO Health Group, Rushed Green and Sydenham Green Practices – by the summer and used by up to an anticipated 77,000 patients. The 35 remaining practices are expected to adopt it by the end of the year, in time to reduce the expected rise in pressures on health services during winter.
It’s not just patient care which technologies are improving. Digital solutions such as Spend Control Management are ensuring the NHS’ ever-stretched budgets are protected by offering an electronic marketplace to NHS Trusts. They’re significantly driving efficiencies, ensuring these trusts gain greater control on maverick spend and gain the economies of scale through volume purchases.
The bottom line? Whether it’s cutting costs or improving patient care, technology has the potential to completely transform healthcare services, and Advanced is helping to lead the way.