In lighter times, the phrase ‘Crisis is the mother of invention’ had perhaps a more immediate positive connotation. However, the admirable reaction from healthcare to the COVID-19 pandemic is evidence that the saying is more than just relevant – it is epitomised. During the pandemic, previously somewhat cumbersome healthcare providers and other large organisations have acted with an incredible speed, embracing new opportunities and thinking outside the box. What previously seemed impossible, has suddenly become the new normal.
When the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic first wave hit Europe this spring, it was a rough awakening for many industries, as well as for healthcare. Despite the fact that Europe is a continent where a majority of the population is digitally mature and most industries are digitally advanced, there was a lack of both preparedness and processes to cope with the new conditions. Healthcare organisations that had already embarked on a digital journey earlier were perhaps better equipped, but even for them, the swift digital transformation became a major stressor.
Adaptation at every level
We are now amidst the second wave of the virus and once again, the spread of infection around the UK is increasing. Healthcare professionals are under extreme pressure, struggling to provide care to their patients – not just the ones affected by COVID-19, but all those who are in need of treatment for every other condition. Cancer patients, diabetics and patients with kidney conditions still need consistent treatment. On a similar note, those who are facing a mental health condition or are in need of primary care have had to take a back seat or wait for a very long time to get treatment. The elderly population’s need for treatment is still here and in need of treatment. At the same time, it is important than ever to protect patients, citizens and especially, healthcare professionals from infection. We need to ensure that the resources we have are used in the most efficient way possible, think innovatively and be brave and daring in the face of change.
What happened when the situation became critical?
Even though we are in the middle of a difficult situation, we thankfully live in a time where the possibility to manage many occasions remotely is readily accessible. New technology and digital tools enable new ways of working and innovative solutions. As everyone accumulates more experience, new values are also emerging – values that were difficult to foresee beforehand but can presently be shared and highlighted. Although planning and analysing are important aspects of digital transformation, actionable insight can only come from trying things out in real-life situations. We have been witnessing the awe-inspiring journey that digital technology can embark its users on and we saw innovative and creative ways of how it can be used in many different situations.
Examples from different areas of healthcare
Many of our customers have been able to offer invaluable support to patients and colleagues when they have needed it most. Others have coordinated their resources in a more efficient way or reduced the pressure on the system by enabling patients to contact them via messaging. Some have reduced long waiting times and physical queueing and consequently, the spread of infection, by allowing patients to book a time for testing and vaccination digitally. Others have replaced home visits with online consultations, where clinicians can meet patients and other healthcare professionals remotely. Intensive care units have been so heavily burdened that they had to rethink the communication with the relatives of hospitalised patients, simplifying them with online consultations, and saving time and energy for the healthcare professionals and bringing the critically ill closer to their loved ones.
We are glad to be able to share some of the truly incredible work some of our customers have done around change management and digital transformation during this time. In our new guide, we are highlighting 8 outstanding examples of how digital technology can support healthcare during the pandemic. We hope it inspired you to find new solutions for your own operations. You can read more about:
- ICU care – with the patient in focus
- New conditions for integrated care
- Booking of physical visits – samples and vaccination
- Asynchronous messages and automated history collection for non-urgent primary care cases
- Asynchronous messages in specialist care – increased patient security and care efficiency
- Digital channels for mental health treatment
- Rehabilitation in the impact of COVID-19
- A flexible workplace enables the full capacity of all available resources.