Dan Worman, co-founder at CCS shares his insight with Hospital Hub…
Every week, multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) made up of healthcare professionals from different healthcare settings, meet to share information or discuss the treatment needs of the Country’s most complex patients. Providing this level of integrated care requires professionals and practitioners from across different sectors to work together. However, despite good practice and particular areas of excellence, much of the IT and online services used to connect our health and social care professionals are far behind where they should be.
The newly launched NHSX unit acknowledges this, aiming to bring the benefits of modern technology to every patient and clinician. One of the key responsibilities of NHSX will be to ensure that NHS systems can talk to each other across the health and care system. But the remit also needs to focus on digital technology that lets clinicians talk to each other as an urgent priority.
While the recently updated NHS Internet First policy makes strides in this direction, public internet doesn’t always offer the level of availability, performance and integrity required for true seamless collaboration. In today’s care settings some MDTs are relying on FaceTime or WhatsApp to connect with colleagues in order to discuss treatment plans. With MDT meetings in cancer services sometimes lasting up to five hours and involving anywhere between two to 27 professionals. It’s easy to see the dangers of workarounds such as WhatsApp, the potential security and connection problems they present as well as the risks they pose to patient confidentiality and safety.
Care services of the future
The specialised skills and expertise held by MDTs sits right at the heart of NHSX’s vision to deliver patients with the best possible treatments. But in order to do so, NHS organisations need the best technology. Enabling positive patient outcomes and true continuity of care requires a three-step approach. Firstly, as NHSX rightly identifies, patients and clinicians need the ability to exchange the right information at the right time. But secondly and crucially to the process, treatment pathways need to be managed appropriately and that means bringing patient care together across different services and between stakeholders, clinicians and organisations. As NHS organisations rely more heavily on critical business applications and services that share information, the need for an always-available collaboration service becomes crucial.
Poorly-fitted technology often leads to wasted time, problems in connecting all participants together and a poor user experience – which ultimately impacts patients. The key to success is getting the basics right, facilitating inter-organisation collaboration and choosing a solution which provides a positive and enjoyable user experience and enables well-run MDTs. It’s then about layering those basics with specialist functionality, like the ability to record MDT sessions and link video content to the patients record. With access to the right information and the means to collaborate efficiently, healthcare professionals are then able to foster relationships and create a culture of trust between the patient, their family or care providers. Ensuring not only continuity of care but also an increased ability to provide patients with healthcare services for long term conditions.