Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Driving Operational Excellence with Digital Technology

July 13, 2016

Truly recognising the potential of Digital Technology begins with an understanding of business need. In health and care, the majority of these business requirements can be compartmentalised into three ‘priority buckets’ to be discussed in this series:

  • Operational Excellence;
  • Service Delivery;
  • Effective Partnering.

The recent Kings Fund publication ‘Deficits in the NHS’ underlines the need to create efficiencies that match budget commitments and restore financial balance. More broadly, the drive towards operational excellence has been a priority for Public Sector organisations for many years. But what does that really mean?

This ‘priority bucket’ should include all those inward facing workflow and operational efficiency ambitions, including transformation of the workplace and the introduction of new, optimised ways of working. The approach begins by identifying a range of use cases that can be improved or supported – and all by the same Digital Technology platform.

So, let’s look at one of those use cases. In February 2016, Lord Carter’s review of operational productivity in Acute providers identified a series of recommendations, one of which centred around delayed transfers of care. These ‘length of stay’ issues create problems for adjacent services such as cleaning, catering and portering as well as creating a hotelling situation which is bad for the provider and the patient.

Equipping clinicians with handheld devices at the bedside with single sign-on capability offers them immediate access to information and decision support. Now, discharges may be carried out at the point of care with notifications to the support services identified above, as well as pharmacy and patient transport. When extrapolated, the time savings and benefits to the patient can provide an attractive return on investment.

And this is just one example where a business led approach to the application of Digital Technology can offer improved operational efficiency. The same technology platform could be exploited for a range of use cases such as out of hours support, bed management and the referral process.

Whilst the use cases described are most common in Acute providers, each health and care setting will have its own priorities. Community and Mental Health opportunities include providing better access to information and decision support for community teams, and the development of shared premises or community hubs where every health and care professional gets the same user experience.

‘Digital Strategy for Connected Health and Care’, the third version of our blueprint for UK health and care organisations, discusses these and many other use cases and demonstrates how a single Digital Technology platform can be re-used and re-exploited. In addition, the use of this platform extends to our other two priority buckets, service delivery and effective partnering – to be discussed later.

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