Personalisation of outpatient activity will enable the NHS to meet demand without sacrificing quality
Topics: Industry insights
Healthcare has a demand problem.
The patient backlog rightfully remains a priority for the NHS. What if I told you the key to solving that backlog is personalisation of healthcare delivery? Personalisation in the context of healthcare refers to being able to help each patient in a way that’s most appropriate to them. Where communication and appointment types suit each patient and their care journey the best.
The industry are waiting for patient initiated follow-up (PIFU) targets and gearing up to hopefully releasing some essential capacity to waiting lists. We believe there is huge potential in PIFU when done properly in a personalised, digital-first way. In fact, we believe up to 80-90% of suitable patients can benefit from a type of PIFU pathway, so long as the patient and the clinician agree.
From working closely with our partner Trusts, we’ve realised there is no universal definition for PIFU. Some trusts hand patients a small card or a leaflet with a phone number on it and ask them to get in touch should they need an appointment. Some trusts aspire to give suitable patients full autonomy and discharge them to a remote-first PIFU list as default. Could there be a better, more consistent way?
In a personalised PIFU model informed patients are empowered to take a pro-active role in their care management. Clinicians in return, are enabled to provide care to the patient cohorts that need it the most. By moving to a digital-first personalised outpatients means care can be delivered regardless of setting. Unnecessary appointments and administrative procedures can be removed, and accessible, timely data can be provided to future-proof healthcare delivery.
So how do we achieve this?
There are five steps to a personalised outpatients;
- Enrol patients to a scalable digital first model.
The NHS app is used by more than 22 million people in the UK and offers a fantastic, consistent opportunity to serve as the digital front-door to the NHS.
- Personalise care delivery by optimising appointment types.
By customising each appointment type to patient and clinician needs; everyone benefits. Telephone clinics are often sufficient for patients in various pathways. Sometimes video consultations offer the best possible option. And sometimes patients need to be seen in person, like in the case of a physical intervention (or other accessibility needs). Sometimes patients can use an online patient portal to efficiently receive care asynchronously.
- Provide the right appointment at the right time.
By streamlining communication between patients and hospitals we enable the right patient to get the right appointment at the right time. Knowing patient preferences avoids unnecessary appointments to take place and reduces DNAs opening up that crucial capacity.
- Manage risk closely from afar.
By remotely monitoring patients through easily accessible online platforms risk can be managed far closer. Utilising online questionnaires and symptom monitoring, patients can keep their clinician informed at pre-set intervals or ad-hoc. Removing the friction of frequent hospital visits and increasing the flow of communication.
- Actively monitor patient health anywhere
Remote monitoring through wearables and symptom tracking via digital equipment closes the loop in building a remote-first outpatients department.
By solving the three pillars of healthcare delivery with a digital approach allows for patient pathways that are more efficient, sustainable, and personalised. These pillars are: engagement & communication, scheduling & list automation and patient data capture.
Personalisation of care delivery doesn’t mean enforcing digital communication to everyone. It means communicating and receiving care in the most appropriate way and setting. Often by enabling most patients that prefer connecting with their hospital via their mobile phones to do so, it also frees up capacity for healthcare professionals to focus on those patients with accessibility or other needs to receive that extra bit of help in-person.
We believe that in five years’ time care will be personalised, delivered online and at home. The NHS will benefit from hospitals without walls that can meet demand without ever sacrificing care quality.