Outside of the immense task of dealing with Covid-19, health systems globally are currently facing a series of significant challenges.
Beyond workforce, in the UK for example we have seen the number of NHS Trusts meeting the A&E waiting times targets fall to an all-time low, average GP waiting times have exceeded two weeks for the first time ever and there is unprecedented pressure on ambulance services.
Set alongside the rapid spread of Covid-19 and international efforts to contain it, the pressure on health services to help patients access the most appropriate treatment in a timely way is expected to grow at unprecedented speed over the weeks and months ahead. In addition to these pressures, professional as well as social distancing has become critical to supporting sustainable and safe healthcare delivery during a period when many staff and patients may be self-isolating.
Eyes are now looking firmly towards technology to relieve the current and future burden on healthcare and there are several ways in which it has already proven itself.
Technology supporting fast and effective decision-making from a distance
Telephone Triage and Decision Support technologies already support the care of millions of citizens across the world. Our TeleGuides clinical content has supported over 100 million patient encounters. A recent independent review concluded that in 98.2% of instances our clinical algorithms provided exactly the same advice as would be given during a face-to-face encounter, with the remaining 1.8% of instances providing an appropriately elevated level of care consistent with a remote triage assessment. The real benefit of these technologies is that assessments and decisions can be made and conducted remotely, both ensuring the safety of clinician or health professional and the patient and freeing up resources to focus on the most serious cases. Our solutions have previously been used to support rapid response to pandemic and epidemic outbreaks such as Zika, Ebola and now Covid-19.
Next generation video sharing
Enhancing decision support solutions, ResponsEye video technology adds a further depth to conversations and assessments. The call handler can send a direct link to the patient who can then share live video as well as photos of their symptoms. The information is encrypted, digitally fingerprinted and of evidential quality which means it can be stored against the patient record giving a point in time reference in instances where any follow up actions are necessary.
Using this kind of technology ensures patients get the most comprehensive assessment and are guided to the most appropriate health care setting or, in nearly 25 per cent of assessments, are provided with personalised, relevant self-care advice and health information for their needs, deflecting demand away from stretched critical care settings.
This same technology can also be a valuable aid in non-emergency situations, such as outpatients, by enabling clinicians to conduct non-critical appointments remotely via a solution called Virtual Consultations. Above and beyond the obvious benefit of supporting the government recommended social distancing, patients feel empowered to take control of their health needs, there is no more uncertainty on where to go or what to do next, no more travelling to an appointment they don’t need.