By Jackie Gill, Digital CHC Product Manager, IEG4
Social care is in desperate need of widespread reform, but to protect the safety of our most vulnerable, Children’s long-term care needs specialist attention. Recently the Children’s commissioner called for urgent reform, which is now more than ever paramount, as ministers have pledged to eradicate the waiting times caused by the persistent backlog within Continuing Healthcare. Figures for the last quarter show that almost 500 children had been waiting for treatment for more than a year and although recent health policy has brought an increase in funding and staffing, it is believed that only 25% of those needing care actually receive it.
When deciding on the right long-term care for Children with complex health needs, it’s important for the patient to have their voice and to feel part of the process. Incorporating children and young people’s opinions brings a host of benefits to both improvement of the service of care and ensures that each and every person involved in the caregiving of the patient is given full transparency over their position within the process.
To achieve this, it’s important to digitise the process, give patients and their caregivers more visibility of the care pathway and capture the young person’s healthcare journey from the first point of contact of the medical support that they encounter.
However, there is a bigger underlying issue. For patients and their families using the system, it can be incredibly frustrating and difficult to access information or updates on their position within the process.
The Continuing Care process can be complex and confusing at an already stressful time for patients and families. Family members play an important role in the process. By providing transparency simplifying the process, delivering service efficiencies, and enabling access to patients and families, we can develop a positive relationship and create a culture of inclusivity that is beneficial to support quality care as well as family and provider cohesiveness and most importantly improve patient safety.
Why a digital Continuing Care process is essential for Children’s Services
There are often administration issues within the NHS due to outdated systems, particularly around data and the quality of data entry on application forms. Often data at the point of entry isn’t right, which allows for errors to grow. To create quality data pathways that can support the workflow of each of these services, we need to digitise them and bring everything up to the same standard.
Digitisation can support the aim of Integrated Care Systems (ICS) responsible for Children’s Services to improve Continuing Care services by providing a better joined up framework of professionals working together to support the needs of patients looking to access services, such as information, updates and communications online.
The availability of solutions that digitise the entire Continuing Care process means that there’s a real opportunity to share crucial patient information between all the professionals involved, the families and the patients.
Realise ROI and improve the situation for patients and NHS care teams
A digital end-to-end Continuing Care solution provides optimal patient outcomes and user experience by driving increased productivity via workflow processes which speed up the decision-making process. Information flows seamlessly between processes, reducing duplication and human error. The self-service portals give both patients and providers the opportunity to digitally interact in real-time with the NHS regarding their stage in the Continuing Care process.
The transparency of digitising Continuing Care
There are many benefits to digitising Continuing Care that will provide efficiencies and improve the interoperability of different systems across different areas of health and social care, something critical to the success of an ICS. For example:
Workflow Efficiencies – Digital referrals cut down on paperwork, reduce errors and lost information, and support a standardised approach. It provides the ability to streamline processes through optimised Continuing Care pathways. This ensures a more efficient use of NHS resources.
Transparency – Moving to a digital model speeds up the decision-making process. Digital channels support quicker and better communication and greater involvement of patients and their representatives in their care. It promotes remote and agile working; virtual multidisciplinary teams remove the need for professionals to be in the same place at the same time, which offers more flexibility for staff and results in quicker assessments. It also improves enhanced communication with providers by keeping data more relevant and up to date. In turn this reduces overpayments and invoice queries, which speeds up correct payments to care providers.
Integration – it encourages interoperability, something that is vital when ensuring records are up to date across every department. For example, it’s prudent to use a system that can be connected to other electronic patient records or systems such as the NHS Spine or EMIS.
Creating better outcomes for children and their families
As with all digital efficiency within the NHS, it’s not just about ‘the technology.’ The key thing to consider is how we can change the culture and start to deliver better outcomes and efficiencies.
Innovation requires investment in not just technology but in truly listening to the needs of children and their families who have a touchpoint with the service.
By bringing these services into a digitised system, we can create a better patient experience – as well as better outcomes for everyone that has a touch point with this service – an experience that goes back to the core roots of our NHS; to help people with dignity and empathy.