05/02/24 Technology

Supporting our NHS Services

Looking at now and the future

Technology Powered Services (TPS) is currently working with one of the UK’s larger NHS Services trusts to upgrade all existing wireless infrastructure across three main hospital sites and up to 20 community hospital spaces. 

The scope of works for each hospital includes the installation of over 8,000m of single mode fibre optic cable, the installation of approximately 500 Access Points (AP’s) per site, provision of tray work for the CAT6a cabling, earthing of all cabinets and cross bonding to doors and side panels. 

The whole project is due to be completed within a five month period and will be delivered by a team of 10 engineers. Due to the daily operational activities of each site, engineers will be required to work in partnership with hospital staff, delivering each aspect of the project with due consideration to patients on hospital wards and both personnel and visitors within busy public spaces.    

These upgrades will ensure the trust has the necessary infrastructure to support its strategy of delivering outstanding patient care and improving staff and visitor experience across its facilities. It will also allow the trust to further extend its reach to the wider community, maintaining and growing the range of services currently offered to provide new healthcare initiatives in future years.

The improvements form part of the government’s strategy for digital health and social care, which aims to ensure that all Integrated Care Systems and NHS trusts have core digital capabilities in place by March 2025. Healthcare providers across thousands of NHS services facilities in England, will be able to benefit therefore from the latest and fastest in connectivity. This will allow for a more streamlined and efficient way of working, releasing frontline staff from time-consuming administrative tasks so they are able to devote more time to delivering personalised care. 

Early adopters of the digital strategy have found that the transfer to electronic patient records alone, whether primary, shared or social care, has led to improved efficiencies of at least 10% when compared to other less digitally mature organisations.  

It is not just the digitisation of patient records however that is driving the need for greater and faster connectivity throughout our healthcare facilities. Technology is changing the way we live and work and it is also set to transform our approach to healthcare in the future, not only in the way we access it but also in the way it is delivered. 

What Prompted the Transformation in Healthcare Delivery?

The Covid-19 pandemic created a seismic shift in the way we could interact with our healthcare facilities. Investment into the digitisation of patient services enabled the introduction of electronic patient record systems, whilst also allowing patients the opportunity to manage appointments and medication requests online.   

This move towards a more digital NHS has created a wealth of new possibilities, opening up the opportunity to deliver our future health care in a fundamentally different way – one that will be faster and more effective, whilst also offering a greater level of personalised care. Over time, patients will be able to manage their long-term health from the comfort of their own homes and have enhanced access to a wide array of additional healthcare information and services. 

Initially introduced during the pandemic, the NHS App is at the heart of these transformative plans. To date, over 30 million people now have an NHS login, allowing them to use the App from a computer, tablet or mobile phone from anywhere in the world. 

Regularly reaching over 50 million views per month, the NHS.uk website allows wider access to a range of additional health and adult care services. The extensive information contained in its pages empowering both patients and carers alike to make more informed decisions about individual health and care needs.  

How Will our Daily Healthcare Change in the Future?

1. Digitally Supported Diagnoses

Future plans will see more digitally-supported diagnoses through the advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). AI’s ability to analyse large volumes of data can support healthcare professionals make better informed decisions, particularly within the area of NHS screening services. Here, technology has the ability to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of certain conditions; such as eye disease, strokes and even cancer.

The capacity to share clinical data and images from radiology and pathology around the system, will extend the deployment of clinical decision support tools, enabling clinicians to report remotely and provide faster diagnoses. 

The technologies will also be able to triage waiting lists to avoid unnecessary referrals and support testing at or close to home, helping to level up any under-served areas. 

2. Supported Independent Healthy Lives

It is proposed each individual will have one single, life-long digital health and social care record. This will improve the quality, safety and productivity of care for every patient as it guarantees healthcare professionals access to the correct medical information at any point in time. 

The ability to source multiple digital channels will also allow people to interact with a variety of different health/social care providers, research resources and patient support networks as and when they need. This improvement in the quality, safety and productivity of care provision will help to prevent health needs from rising or escalating across a variety of situations. 

It is anticipated this level of independent control to monitor and manage patient health, will help to address a variety of recognised health and social inequalities; such as income, geography, sex, ethnicity, disability and social inclusion, ensuring all members of society are better connected to the NHS throughout the varying trusts.  

3. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will emulate human actions in primary and secondary care and interact these with digital systems to automate basic, repetitive manual tasks such as; letter writing, document scanning and answering the telephone. It will also provide decision making support for frontline staff, advising when to take pre-emptive action to prevent care needs rising or escalating. 

4. Risk Based Screening

It is expected that advancements in medical knowledge and diagnostic programmes will allow for the screening of individuals tailored to their personal risk factors. These digital health checks or ‘risk based screening’, will transform disease prevention helping us to diagnose and treat conditions much earlier.

5. Reimagining Outpatients 

The option to introduce digital pre-assessment services for certain surgeries will free up capacity in pre-assessment clinics. Likewise, digital technology will be fundamental to elective recovery as it offers a virtual alternative to face-to-face outpatient appointments, releasing precious clinical space and time for a range of other important tasks.

Summary 

The move towards a digital NHS will undoubtedly revolutionise the way in which we access and experience our long-term healthcare. Whilst this piece has focused primarily on the general impacts this will bring, we will also see innovative AI technologies that support pioneering surgeries and critical care. 

Regardless of the aspect of provision, all of our healthcare facilities will demand the superior network infrastructure that is capable of supporting and sustaining the government’s plans for delivering these improved outcomes. 

A specialist in network connectivity, TPS’s experience of delivering long-term infrastructure strategies ensures we are the perfect partner to support the independent needs of any NHS trust. Our understanding of a wide range of medical environments, combined with in-depth technical expertise, ensures we can provide the connectivity solutions you need, not just for today but for our future world of healthcare too, whatever that may bring.

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