Secondary care is where we find people with the greatest care needs – people with chronic illness, patient groups with rare diagnoses, cancer patients, and others. This is also the area where digital tools are likely to contribute the greatest value.
Most often, patients in secondary care are in close and frequent contact with their healthcare provider to monitor their condition. In addition, patients who require secondary care are very often at an increased risk of infection. While caring for the most vulnerable, healthcare providers within secondary care have to manage an increasing backlog of outpatient appointments: As of mid-2020, waiting times for referrals are the longest they have been in a decade, short of half a million Britons are in need of a diagnosis and the NHS confederation estimates that by the end of 2021, the waiting list for surgery will escalate to 10 million. At the same time, outpatient appointments have the highest DNA rates, as they remain inaccessible for patients to request. Secondary care may have the most fruitful conditions to go digital, but it is also the one sector in the greatest need of a digital transformation. With online consultations, the organisation, the healthcare professionals, and the patients can reap the biggest benefits.
A large number -if not the majority- of outpatient appointments can and should be conducted online – to protect patients who are most at risk, to provide consistent care, and to support healthcare providers in managing the looming backlog of outpatient appointments swiftly and efficiently. For a person with advanced COPD, getting to the hospital is a struggle. Just getting up and getting dressed can be hard, and travelling and risking infection during the journey or in the hospital waiting room can have direct consequences to their health condition. It can be a relief to be able to have discussion-based healthcare meetings via video, without leaving the home.
A communication platform for secondary care allows you to fill in the gaps that can arise between treatments, where the patients are expected to care for themselves, by themselves at home. Cancer patients can feel well-cared for during the treatment, but have a relapse later on after being discharged, left alone without an open channel to the health services where they can get advice. Opening a digital contact channel where discharged patients can ask questions and maintain a dialogue with their healthcare provider helps reduce anxiety and suffering. It can involve secure messages, which the patient can write at any time of the day or night, but which the health services can answer during office hours. It can also involve drop-in rooms available to former patients, allowing them to meet with their healthcare provider, who knows their medical history, via video link during certain hours.
Digital tools can also help coordination within the health services. In multi-party calls, several people can be on a video link with the patient and specialists can be invited for multidisciplinary discussions, regardless of where they are located. The benefits are numerous – more efficient dialogue, reduced risk of losing information, increased patient safety and quality, and savings for all involved.
Through dynamic forms, healthcare providers can also list questions that they want patients to answer in connection with messages or video meetings, for a more concise and better-prepared dialogue.
Visiba Care offers many opportunities to enhance the efficiency of your business, improve coordination, and increase patient safety.