Can technology and digitalization be the real lifeline of the NHS?
NHS executives have warned that the pressures on their organization have become unsustainable, just at the same time that the latest figures have been released showing record waiting lists that hits 6 million patients
The winter of 2021/22 is looking complicated for the NHS, with a lack of staff and resources, staff burnout, combined with the consequences of the pandemic: huge waiting lists.
Indeed, the latest statistics for October have just been published and the figures are extremely alarming:
• Record waiting lists: 6 million patients
• Number of patients waiting more than two years for an operation: 16.225
• The highest number of people waiting more than 12 hours in A&E since data collections began, with 7,059 people delayed in October
• Ambulances in England took an average of 53 minutes and 54 seconds in October, which had been the longest average response time since records began in August 2017
• Weekly data on ambulances waiting outside of A&E departments showed last week more than 8,200 patients waiting more than an hour in an ambulance
Data from NHS Stats
Despite multiple warnings from NHS bodies and royal colleges, the pressure on the health system continues to grow. The situation is such that even the Royal College of Emergency Medicine itself has warned that delays in A&E over the past month have led to patient deaths.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The single biggest message we are hearing from NHS staff is that they want the government to acknowledge the scale of workforce problems and to show how this level of pressure on them will not become the new normal.
“Staff have been working flat out since before COVID-19 and we are asking them, once more, to ‘make an extraordinary effort this winter’. Staff will, of course, provide that extra effort but, they need to see a clear plan for how they get to a reasonable workload on a sustainable basis.”
Precisely, this plan must rely on technology and digitalization, tools that continue to prove to be great allies not only for the pandemic, but in all areas of healthcare.
What can technology bring to the equation?
RTLS as the core of our system provides the fundamental, data. Data that provides information that will be key to the transformation and improvement of each process.
However, our technology goes a step further through the orchestration of patients and processes.
• Patients are always located and in real-time, allowing us to know their status throughout the hospital process
• Automated tasks based on the real-time needs of each patient, eliminating downtime and facilitating coordination
A smooth flow of patients and work that also allows relatives to be kept fully informed at any time and place through real-time information panels and the Virtual Waiting Room app.
To this we must add a key element in the fight against waiting lists, our ORvital system focused on the surgical block, in addition to offering an organized and coordinated process that allows the head of the surgical block to be aware of the situation of each patient, operating theatre and facilitates decisions, are complemented by the automated surgical scheduler. A tool capable of managing waiting lists, professional schedules, bed and operating theatre restrictions, and data for the most efficient scheduling of operations.
Adopting new systems and technology is complex, but given the current situation of the NHS it is vital to take actions that are not only capable of avoiding collapse in the short term, but that are capable of completely transforming the system and making it sustainable over time.