While the introduction of Covid-19 vaccines is bringing much-needed hope after a very difficult year, it doesn’t mean the NHS will be back to normal any time soon.
The post-pandemic NHS is likely to look very different, yet this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Throughout the pandemic many lessons have been learned amid rapid changes to ways of working. Continuing to provide safe and effective health care for people other than those who have Covid-19 is essential and this has become possible in many cases using technology such as online consultations to triage patients alongside other technology such as telehealth.
We have also seen a greater focus on preventative care but for this to be effective we must understand the needs of local communities and where best to place resources to encourage healthier habits.
Combining data to make predictions about future use
Proactive health relies on being able to identify where care and resources are needed the most, to reduce demand on general healthcare services and also to reduce the number of people who are likely to become severely affected by the virus.
Combining data collected by different providers within local health systems will help to build a picture of demand and help us make better predictions about given cohorts of patients. This twin track approach of making the most of online solutions and, at the same time using predictive risk modelling that can provide a view of health needs across the local health system, should help to ease future pressures on health and care services.
This in turn means joined up systems with the ability to allow contact between community and acute systems will be crucial in sharing swiftly changing information, advice and alerts as well as being able to prioritise patients to ensure the best care. Having a helicopter view of what is happening in local communities - not just hospitals – will be critical to ensure swift action where new outbreaks inevitably occur.
The CHKS Advisory Board recently discussed the challenge of sharing data between acute settings and other providers in the health and care system to support greater integration - its recommendations are particularly relevant in this post-pandemic phase and you can read the report here.