How technology is set to revolutionise the healthcare sector
It’s no secret that the NHS is under huge strain the face of an ever rising – and ageing – population.
Creating more capacity in the NHS, cutting waiting times and lowering accident and emergency admissions all remain huge challenges for government, and at the centre of this sits a demand to become more agile and flexible.
Technology – and video technology in particular – has emerged as a powerful tool in enabling healthcare organisations to do this. In fact, I think we are at the tipping point in seeing this become a part of mainstream NHS culture as the technology becomes more intuitive and healthcare professionals become increasingly aware of the real benefits it can bring.
We’ve worked with the Airedale NHS trust in West Yorkshire, for example, to set up video links in locations like prisons and care homes – this means patients can undergo consultations without physically entering the hospital. The numbers speak for themselves here – this initiative saw A&E admissions reduce by a huge 53%, and hospital admissions from care homes reduce by 35%.
Here’s another great example – we’re currently launching our collaborative solution, Cisco Extended Care, with a clinical commissioning group. This gives a three-way view of each case, from the patient, doctor and care team perspective. The chairman of this group is a GP with 10,000 patients, 600 of which require twice-yearly check-ups for high blood pressure.
By enabling the GP to connect with these patients via video, audio call and instant messaging wherever they are and via any device, this technology could potentially free up 12,000 appointments per year, leaving the GP with time for more urgent health complaints. This technology could also enable doctors that are on call to make crucial decisions from whenever they are without needing to make their way to the hospital. These examples really show the huge effect collaborative technology could have on patient care if it were to become a benchmark across the healthcare system.
Collaboration technology like this can also facilitate multi-disciplinary live team meetings, enabling representatives from partner hospitals and research centres across the globe to join in via a range of devices, whether the fully-immersive Telepresence room or the iPhone.
From my experience, it’s a common sentiment across healthcare professionals that we should be taking the care to the patients, not expecting the patients to come to the care. With collaborative technology this is no longer a pipedream, and we’re beginning to see our healthcare system evolve into one that is agile, flexible and available to people across devices and locations.