Healthcare has been moving more and more into the digital space, and this was accelerated even further by the pandemic. People were forced to look towards digital solutions as lockdowns were put in place. Fortunately, the 2019 NHS Long Term Plan has stipulations and funding to support the digitization of healthcare in the UK. One of the Plans’ main goals is to set up a digital system that’s interoperable and accessible to all NHS institutions. Digitization has become a priority in the country because of its positive impact on the healthcare sector and, ultimately, on people’s lives.
The COVID-19 outbreak has been fast-spreading and has effected every country around the world, with countries in South-east Asia particularly hard hit. In order to prevent the severe outbreaks that have plagued that region, the UK government put several areas under lockdown. Many people had to shelter at home. This meant that they weren’t able to make their regular trips to the doctors. In lieu of clinical visits, many turned to online consultation services like AccuRx and eConsult. This telehealth trend is becoming more commonplace and experts say that it’s here to stay. In fact, AccuRx built a video chat tool in April 2020 that’s now being used in 35,000 consultations every day in the UK alone. Moving consultations online has allowed more people to seek help without having to physically visit hospitals. This eliminates barriers to access like geography, transportation, and resulting costs.
As more clinics and hospitals are adopting telehealth platforms, the demand for healthcare professionals is growing. With the digital arrangement, however, other healthcare workers such as nurses are given the opportunity to step up into more proactive roles in patient care. Nowadays, patients don’t always need to see a specialist. Instead, they can opt for a consultation with other healthcare professionals who are just as capable, easing the pressure and demand on roles that are in short supply.
Administrative tasks are essential to healthcare, and those often necessitate tons of paperwork. This means that healthcare professionals also have to contend with accomplishing these documents on top of delivering care. Moving paperwork to digital systems helps teams do more critical work. The less time healthcare professionals spend on paperwork, the more time they have to administer patient care. Digitisation also helps speed up several processes, including file management and information storage and retrieval. This cuts down on miscommunication risks and human error – a definite advantage for health services.
Digital systems can be revolutionary to healthcare logistics, which is extremely dependent on timeliness. These systems help boost efficiency and effectively transmit real-time information, producing more accurate scheduling when it comes to transporting medical products and drugs. This allows healthcare businesses to optimise their inventory and make more informed time-sensitive decisions, such as placing orders and sending out deliveries. Digitising the logistics process also ensures that everyone involved, from sender to receiver, is kept informed at all times.
As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. This definitely still rings true today. With the ongoing talk about boosting immunity and vaccinations, it’s clear that early and timely intervention is crucial in healthcare. It’s often overlooked how digital systems can also be used before patients need to see doctors. In a previous Avegen Health post, we mentioned how digital systems include wearable devices and mobile apps. These are helpful in terms of monitoring vitals throughout the day. These patient-centric technologies can also assist them in managing their symptoms on their own for non-urgent cases. Because information is stored online from these devices and apps, healthcare providers also gain access to information about patients’ day-to-day lives – and they obviously wouldn’t get this information from periodic clinic visits. With wearables and health apps, patients can also become more accountable in terms of managing their own programs.
Articles was specially written for avegenhealth.com by Amber Woods