My first employed role outside of a family business was as a punch room operator for the department of employment (for those who weren’t civil servants in the 1980s, or are under the age of 65, this was using a special keyboard to type information onto a tickertape). As we all know public sector IT infrastructures are usually several years behind the commercial world and the NHS has certainly not been an exception.
As we all know public sector IT infrastructures are usually several years behind the commercial world and the NHS has certainly not been an exception
I started working with the NHS in 1994, as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Pharmacia & Upjohn. Even as a young and naive salesperson it didn’t take me long to appreciate the challenges that clinical staff faced in secondary and primary care when trying to improve patient care and implement change.
One particular example was a senior clinician in one hospital who wrote his own software program and brought in his own computer to clear a waiting list for one specific procedure, reducing waiting times of up to 12 months, down to two weeks. This took real determination and dedication to implement change. However nearly all hospitals are still facing issues with IT system integrations and record sharing.
IT – technology which should facilitate collaborative working and sharing of best practice is often a roadblock to improvement. The proposition of new software was often met with a sucking of teeth, and the same expression women see on the face of a mechanic when they lift the bonnet of their car.
In 2014 Jeremy Hunt announced that the NHS basic model was to change to focus on providing help at home. The Five Year Forward View of 2014 said that “patients will gain greater control of their own care” and that
“The NHS will take decisive steps to break down the barriers in how care is provided between family doctors and hospitals, between physical and mental health, between health and social care”.
The NHS Long Term Plan of 2019 promised that “Digitally-enabled care will go mainstream across the NHS” and that “Technology will play a central role in realising the Long Term Plan, helping clinicians use the full range of their skills, reducing bureaucracy, stimulating research and enabling service transformation. People will have more control over the care they receive and more support to manage their health, to keep themselves well and better manage their conditions, while assisting carers in their vital work.”
And yet, still the sucking of teeth continued……..until March 2020. COVID-19 impacted NHS innovation and implementation in the same way that a war impacts on military developments. Instead of “can’t be done” we moved to “must be done”. In order for the NHS to provide care for their most vulnerable patients who cannot go to clinics or surgeries for consultations telehealth, which had been patiently waiting in wings, was rapidly adopted across primary and secondary care.
Digital record sharing is a key methodology to share information whilst keeping face-to-face contact and risk of infection to a minimum, for staff and patients and is increasingly seen as essential for integrated teams.
Rehab Guru is facilitating the transformation of services from physical appointments to flexible delivery using a combination of physical and digital consultations across the public and private sectors. Being flexible enough to provide both autonomous and prescriptive methods of service delivery, Line Managers can specify and load local guidelines and directives into the system if they choose. Options to share prescriptions and exercise templates across teams helps to manage staff changes and absences with a minimum of disruption to patients and clients. Dashboards can provide overviews of activity and exercise prescribing for those managing diverse workforces.
There is a telehealth solution which allows patients to share appointments with family and/or carers, using secure digital rooms, and the option to record. There is also the opportunity to purchase additional software for patient notes and forms if not seeking to integrate with existing systems – which Rehab Guru can facilitate. The patient app encourages better Patient Activation and engagement, my personal experience is that the exercises are easy to follow and the app encourages feedback.
In an environment where NHS guidance and long-term planning is seeking to provide care closer to home, accessing patients at home using integrated teams and a mix of skilled staff, whilst retaining standards and reducing risk of infection, Rehab Guru is a valid solution to facilitation of flexible physiotherapy services.
Kate leads the commercial team at Rehab Guru and has over 20 years’ experience of working in Health and Social Care, primarily focused on innovative products and services. her work spans the NHS, social care, public, private and third sectors.