How the right digital tools can empower the UK’s healthcare workers

By Martin McFadyen - Head of Public Sector, Virgin Media Business

Healthcare’s front line workers have felt the impact of Covid-19 more than most. 

The whole service, its systems and people were put under immense new strain, almost overnight. There was a pressing and immediate need for more resources, temporary hospitals and different working practices such as remote working.

Face-to-face GP appointments plummeted from around 80% to less than 10% in just weeks. Such rapid change was driven by necessity. 

There’s a big difference between hastily adopted emergency measures and smart, productive, long-term flexible working, however. 

Empowerment of staff is key. But what does this mean in practice?

Telemedicine is here to stay

Since the spring of 2020, remote care and virtual appointments have seen burgeoning growth, mirrored by the vertical drop in face-to-face appointments.  

Telemedicine has transformed from the almost theoretical to an indispensable everyday reality. And the remote routine appointment is very much here to stay. 

Because beyond being an essential health measure at a time of crisis, it also provides substantial time and cost savings and delivers better patient outcomes.

The experiences of frontline workers at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London are revealing, showing how the right digital tools, technology and training can really deliver for clinicians, carers and patients. 

80% of people got the treatment they needed online, with almost 95% giving the service they received the maximum rating of five stars.

Clinicians need to be empowered with innovative technology to make the most of telemedicine so they can provide and improve patient care from anywhere. 

To do this they need intuitive tools that capture data and reduce the administrative burden that distracts from primary care. 

This in turn will enable them to use remote and virtual care technologies, cut unnecessary referrals, outpatient appointments and A&E visits. 

This kind of empowerment and support is vital for digital transformation across healthcare. It’s about putting the latest and best tools in people’s hands, wherever they’re working from.

A culture of satisfaction

The process of empowerment is primarily driven by your organisation’s culture. 

It’s about your style of leadership, the respect and flexibility woven into the everyday. And it’s also about the opportunities for self-expression and individuality you create. 

By providing the best tools, you make it happen.

A reliable, secure and stable cloud-based network enables this process with ease. It transforms communication and collaboration, helping employees to do their best from anywhere, without restrictions. 

In healthcare, core human qualities such as empathy and judgement based on face-to-face interaction are hugely important. And the right technology can keep these qualities at the forefront of care, even in a world of remote working. 

A workforce set free to do what it does best is inevitably happier. Time and cost efficiencies reset the work/life balance to create a less frantic, ‘fire-fighting’ regime. 

Happy, safe professionals are more engaged and therefore more productive and efficient. 

In fact, your organisation is 82% more likely to provide a quality patient experience when you really focus on improving employee engagement. 

Better outcomes all round

The ultimate outcome is improved patient care. 

Content, well-resourced health professionals – equipped with exactly the tools they need – deliver a better service because they can quickly access data, communicate effectively with patients and collaborate with colleagues. 

The traditionally complex, fragmented interoperability found in healthcare can be streamlined, making it much easier for multi-disciplinary teams to cut waiting times, see more patients, speed up referrals and provide better access to specialists. 

Rob Harder, CTO for University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, has seen the benefits first-hand: “The more information our clinicians can share, the better their ability to provide the best patient care.”

Now is the time to invest in cloud-driven communication and collaboration tools, innovative digital technology and the development of new skills. This combination will empower staff and inspire confidence in patients who can be reassured that their sensitive data is safe and secure.