The NHS faces a huge backlog following Covid 19, exposing some fundamental unmet needs for healthcare professionals and the communication tools available to them.
After two long years, it seems we are finally emerging from the pandemic, one vaccination at a time. For NHS staff however, the challenge is far from over. As the healthcare system faces the immense and mounting pressure of the patient backlog, the effects of Covid 19 are still causing great strain on the NHS and the healthcare professionals who got us all through a global crisis.
The British Medical Association released an NHS backlog data analysis this year which finds that waiting times for patients have dramatically increased for emergency care, elective care and suspected cancer referrals, and warns of greater problems storing up in the future.
The healthcare system is now under immense pressure to work through the oversized waiting list of patients following Covid 19, and the backlog crisis is exposing the lack of quick, clear and easy ways to communicate across the NHS – in addition to demanding workloads, healthcare professionals on wards must navigate slow, tedious or unreliable communication pathways to coordinate transfer of care and keep patient discharges moving.
The backlog crisis is exposing the lack of quick, clear and easy ways to communicate across the NHS
Patient discharge delays: a communication problem?
For clinicians on a ward, there are a few key steps to avoiding delayed transfer of care: a discharge coordinator must be able to access the information they need and quickly communicate next steps to patients, carers, family members or other healthcare providers; the ward pharmacist may need to verify a patient’s current and past medications; referrals to community or social care may be required for continued treatment and the medical team must inform the patient’s GP of the discharge and treatment plan.
At each stage, waiting for responses or requests for information slows the decision-making process considerably. The sheer number of people required in some way for the safe discharging of a patient means communication is likely to happen through a mix of in-person conversations, phone calls, letters, notes and emails, and the result is often overwhelming for those involved in a patient’s care.
NHS England is recognising the problem posed by widespread lack of more effective productivity tools in its workforce, committing in a 2022 Delivery plan for tackling the Covid 19 backlog to “help our staff [by] investing in digital technology that reduces the time they spend on paperwork”, adding that investment in such technologies can “rapidly realise productivity savings.”
The sheer number of people required in some way for the safe discharging of a patient means communication is likely to happen through a mix of in-person conversations, phone calls, letters, notes and emails, and the result is often overwhelming
The communication solutions that can make patient discharges faster, safer and easier
accuRx has helped 98% of GP practices communicate with their patients with secure text messages and video consultations, contacting over 48 million individual patients. The same needs to contact patients and other healthcare professionals exist beyond primary care. In secondary care, we need to build better bridges across the entire healthcare system so that any clinician can easily contact the right colleagues in any organisation, or view information about their patient no matter where they are registered.
When you’re dealing with long waiting lists for beds in the ward and the pressure to safely and effectively discharge patients as soon as they’re ready, you want every person involved to be able to communicate easily. From a hospital pharmacist viewing a clear record of medication in just a few clicks, to clinicians across specialities discussing care plans remotely, or monitoring patients’ recovery at home while keeping them on a virtual ward – accuRx helps you make the decisions you need to make quickly, with confidence.
The free accuRx Web platform includes everything an individual or team needs to simplify the organisation around patient discharge and reduce delayed transfer of care.
In one place, you can find, communicate with and remotely monitor your patients in just 3 clicks.
Manage virtual wards to provide continued remote care
If a patient is ready to recover at home but needs ongoing care or continued follow-up, you can easily manage a virtual ward using Patient Lists. Create Patient Lists from your patient administration system (PAS) or directly in accuRx Web, and share the lists with clinicians or administrators in your team. In one place, you can find, communicate with and remotely monitor your patients in just 3 clicks.
Instantly view patient medications on any device
Request an instant view of any patient’s GP record summary within accuRx directly from your patients. Send the request to a patient’s phone and retrieve the permission code verbally from them to unlock your view of their current record on any device, including medications, investigations, allergies and more.
Communicate with patients and follow-up after discharge
Send one-way messages to your patients’ phones with information about their care, attach NHS advice, send digital leaflets or discharge letters and share red-flag advice on when and how to seek care following discharge from the hospital. Arrange follow-up or wound reviews by requesting patient responses including text or photo messages. Once a patient has been discharged, share a link to patient-initiated follow-up (PIFU) and booking to support them to initiate their own care. Manage responses to an individual or shared team inbox, where you can coordinate follow-up actions with your team.
Coordinate care plans and discharge across specialities
You can easily invite up to 50 healthcare professionals to a virtual multidisciplinary team (MDT) or best interests meeting with Video Consult in accuRx. No downloads or account signups are needed from your participants and you can join the meeting easily from any device, reducing any delays or technical barriers. If inviting the patient, you can share Patient Lists with colleagues to ensure you and they can see when the patient has joined the call.
Send information to patients, carers and GP on discharge
Once a patient is ready to go home, you can make sure patients or carers can easily refer back to advice and information by sending a template message, adding any NHS advice, leaflet or digital document as needed in a secure digital attachment. You can also invite patients to a patient-initiated follow-up pathway, or send a message to their GP via accuRx.
Remotely assess home environment suitability
Using Message Patient, you can easily contact a patient’s carer and request photos of the home environment and descriptions of equipment available to determine whether the patient will have everything they need to support their recovery outside the hospital. You can also invite anyone to a Video Consult using any device – no downloads or accounts necessary – to make a quick assessment of the environment.
Managing patient discharge with accuRx: Learn more about the solutions we offer
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Get in touch: Let us know how we can support you and your team