The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) recently published a policy paper which lays out the government's plan and vision for the development of user friendly technology in healthcare. The main purpose behind such development plans is to provide the public with improved healthcare experiences. With this vision in mind, the paper reveals the government's future priorities and areas of focus.
The Department believes that the following four areas should be considered top priorities:
Hospitals, medical centers, GPs, pharmacies and other healthcare providers should be able to share and receive patient data using the best technologies and without issues. Similarly patients should be able to visit their different providers without having to mention their medical history, test results and treatment plans every time. This saves on time and costs, while simultaneously improving customer satisfaction. But, for this to occur, browsers and systems should be interoperable, safe and secure. Accordingly, the government will soon mandate a set of standards across the NHS and guide its providers towards meeting them. Not only will new IT systems need to meet such standards, older ones will also need to be upgraded.
As technology advances, patients' expectations for what it can offer them grow. Consequently, providing safe online access to healthcare providers, as well as creating targeted health information and digital tools that help meet patient needs should be a top priority. Accordingly, the NHS officially launched its Healthcare Apps Library in February 2019, which continues to grow. However, digital developments are not only aimed at improving customer care but also at the quality of work for healthcare staff. Upgraded digital services save time, eliminate unnecessary operations, decrease workloads and allow healthcare staff to direct their focus towards patient care.
The policy paper also mentions the great potential for healthtech innovation in the UK. The government hopes that it can work alongside tech developers and innovators to create safe and user-friendly health services. Such services then need to be tested so that they can be used seamlessly and with minimal issues. In order to promote and encourage researchers to develop useful products, the British government intends to put a framework in place. Establishing a straightforward set of standards will pave the way for tech companies, guide them and provide them with the necessary support to achieve their goals.
Staff Skills and Organisational Culture
Naturally, having exceptional digital services is of no value if they are not well embedded in the organisation's culture. NHS staff should be well equipped to implement and utilise new technologies. A change in culture requires a firm, guiding hand that not only teaches but also leads staff through the integration process. Moreover, data should be analysed and maximised as it holds the key to achieving the best customer care.