Comment: Using hospital technology to support residentsí wellbeing

Lee Copestake, technical director at BookWise Solutions, explains how healthcare services can use technology to streamline care

Although some may see hospitals as a place for immediate, one off medical care; for home care residents, or those with long-term health conditions, a hospital trip can be part of their monthly, weekly, or even daily, routine. The importance of implementing technology to streamline immediate care is well recognised, but the impact that disjointed, slow services has on regular patients shouldnít be overlooked, with the number of patients at risk set to increase further in coming years. Here, Lee Copestake, technical director at healthcare scheduling specialist, BookWise Solutions explains his thoughts on how the industry can be streamlined

Lee Copestake

With the average life expectancy of the UK population continuing to increase, so will the number of individuals with chronic health concerns.

The resulting impact of these long-term illnesses is already reflected in the number of GP referrals, rising 33% from September 2008 to September 2017.

With reliance on hospitals growing, this makes managing ongoing care a topic of high priority for trusts across the country.

For people such as elderly care home residents who live with long-term conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease and arthritis; hospital visits are an essential part of everyday life, far beyond the initial referral.

Even now, as the NHS undergoes a digital transformation, many hospitals across the country still rely on outdated paper-based room booking systems. This makes it extremely difficult to co-ordinate efficient use of equipment, rooms and staff in such a fast-paced, constantly-changing environment

Failing to ensure patients are able to access appointments at regular and convenient times can ultimately have a negative effect on their wellbeing.

Unfortunately, with resources placed under increasing pressure, many patients have experienced common obstacles such as delayed appointments when trying to see a healthcare specialist.

This can understandably cause great frustration and is further compounded when such problems become an unwelcome part of a regular routine that is critical to everyday health.

Experiencing these issues on a recurring basis can start to heavily impact quality of life and can, for example, interfere with family time and other daily commitments that form part of these patientsí normal routine.

Even now, as the NHS undergoes a digital transformation, many hospitals across the country still rely on outdated paper-based room booking systems. This makes it extremely difficult to co-ordinate efficient use of equipment, rooms and staff in such a fast-paced, constantly-changing environment.

However, with the use of technology - such as room scheduling software - managers can utilise their resources, no matter how limited they may be. Thanks to the transparent overview of assets that can be achieved, it is possible to ensure every patient receives fast, adequate and accurate care, removing the risk of errors such as double bookings and loss of documentation.

For example, BookWise Outpatients software is used by one UK NHS trust to manage more than 1,300 monthly outpatients clinics across two sites. These include a regional neuroscience centre, a cancer centre, and a hyper acute stroke unit.

Since installation, its first month saw a 76% approval rate on 301 requests, with approval rates in June rising from 47%-80% due to detailed requester knowledge and improved data quality of room availability.

With capacity becoming increasingly limited, itís crucial that other locations look to integrate other time-saving practices wherever possible.

Itís widely recognised that implementing technological solutions within hospitals can help increase compliance, speeding up processes at a time when every second counts. But, beyond this, the benefits of digitisation within other areas of the healthcare environment, such as administrative tasks, shouldnít be underestimated.

Switching from paper-based room booking procedures to an intelligent, electronic system could dramatically improve patient experience, making every routine appointment simple and stress free.

Itís widely recognised that implementing technological solutions within hospitals can help increase compliance, speeding up processes at a time when every second counts

With budgets tightening and resources becoming even more limited, ensuring efficiency within hospital practices is more important than ever.

Using technology, it is possible to enable this, reducing demands on staff and streamlining procedures both internally and externally, helping provide the highest standards of care possible.