It’s a huge challenge and there is unlikely to be any straightforward strategies, but the National Health Service (NHS) still has quite a way to go until it has been fully digitally transformed.
The NHS is the fifth largest employer in the world; according to the NHS Confederation, it deals with more than one million patients every 36 hours. It has transformed our lives over the past 70 years, and now its time we returned the favour.
The digital challenge
Communication between businesses and its customers has changed over the years; citizens are now very tech-savvy and it’s easier than ever to access services such as banking and retail through mobile devices, while retaining the same level of normal service. But one area that’s still not quite as accessible is the NHS.
Frustrated patients still struggle to make GP appointments without racing to the phone as soon as the practice opens and even then they aren’t guaranteed an appointment they can make. For those who need to be seen outside of the traditional 9am-5:30pm working hours here lies another problem, as most practices don’t operate during evenings and weekends.
It’s not just patients that feel irritated – for employees of the NHS a lack of digital capability is also taking its toll. Legacy systems are still in place in many trusts and are difficult to use, and there’s a lack of highly skilled IT engineers to service devices and address concerns.
The new health and social care secretary has pledged £487m of funding towards technology to reduce NHS wait times and lessen the burden on frontline forces.
So how can a technological booster rid the NHS of these constraints?
Pioneering GP surgeries have harnessed the power of digital capability and made communication between themselves and patients much more fluid.
Online appointment bookings and repeat prescriptions, as well as the capability to access medical records, are a reality for these surgeries thanks to the integration of the right tech.
£75m of government funding is available to help trusts put in place electronic prescribing systems, which saves money and reduces potentially deadly medication errors by up to 50% compared to paper systems.
Most still rely on Windows 7, and some are even on Windows XP, but now all those joining the Windows 10 agreement must modernise by 14th January 2020
Many have also adapted the use of automated text message systems to remind patients of their appointments. This can help considerably in cutting down on missed appointments. One way to improve this even further is to incorporate a system that asks the patient to accept or decline the appointment via text message – again, making it easier than ever for patients to inform surgeries they can no longer attend or confirm their attendance.
Innovative surgeries likewise offer video consultations. This can be particularly useful for those unable to travel and who cannot leave their workplace during GP opening hours.
The right tools
Following the Wannacry incident, many NHS trusts are now upgrading to Windows 10 operating system. The Department of Health and Social Care has agreed a deal with Microsoft that will enable all NHS organisations to use Windows 10 and strengthen their defence against future cyber attacks.
Most still rely on Windows 7, and some are even on Windows XP, but now all those joining the Windows 10 agreement must modernise by 14th January 2020.
There are many reasons why the NHS, and organisations and businesses in general, should upgrade to Windows 10, including:
It’s more secure than any of its predecessors – especially important for the NHS who has fallen victim to huge cyber attacks in the past
It’s super fast – speeding up admin and general processes
It’s versatile – multi-tasking is easier on the latest operating system and it’s easier than ever to juggle multiple open windows, super important for busy NHS desks
SCC can digitally transform your organisation
Technology has the capability to alleviate the pressures from all the above and much more. At SCC, we can digitally transform your organisation, putting all your technical frustrations to rest.
Kat Cooke is Senior Content Writer at SCC. She was previously Senior Journalist at the Aesthetics journal, and has worked for Sky News, providing live coverage of the last two General Elections and the EU Referendum. Kat has a 2:1 degree in Journalism from City University London.