Marc Schmid discusses how remote health tech and Office 365 can transform the NHS
At Redmoor-ELC our focus is on people-centred digital care. We are committed to raising awareness of the value of remote digital technology to improve patient outcomes
The healthcare sector and politicians are recognising the vital role technology can play in improving patient care, tackling staff retention, and relieving some of the current challenges and pressures that the Coronavirus pandemic is placing on the NHS and primary care system. Office 365 is a valuable enabler to help GP practices and their teams cope with these challenges. It is about collaboration – and collaboration is something the NHS and primary care need and want to do more of.
Office 365 supports mobile working across multiple devices, such as phones, tablets, and laptops. It opens up opportunities for collaboration without the need to travel and consultations through integrated media and video conferencing. This in itself seems ready made to help support the development of Primary Care Networks (PCNs).
These are clusters of GP practices that are supporting patient populations of between 50,000 – 75,000 people. How else are you going to collaborate when you have multiple practices in that network unless you have got the tech tools to do it? If you get a cluster of practices that want to work together really closely, share information, files, instant messaging etc, Office 365 is a game-changer!
During this past year because of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing restrictions, most companies in the UK have been conducting their meetings with employees and business contacts by video, and this is also being increasingly used within GP practices and secondary care. Video conferencing allows hospitals to create networks to provide each other with support. By easily sharing their expertise outside their organisations, medical or nurse specialists can offer incredible value to health and social care colleagues.
Undoubtedly, Covid-19 has radically changed the way healthcare has been delivered in primary care this year: in March NHS England urged GP practices to make more use of video and telephone consultations to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. The technology was already available to enable GPs to work remotely, but the pandemic has vastly speeded up tech adoption. Prior to the onset of Coronavirus, the model was a face-to-face appointment first and then diverting patients into another follow-up care. During the epidemic, the model is changing to doing remotely first and when GPs do need to see people face-to-face, it is being done in a Covid-secure way, via an online triage system.
Ensuring continuity of care, especially for vulnerable and chronic health conditions patients, has been uppermost in clinicians minds during these past exceedingly difficult months of the pandemic. Office 365 Teams video conferencing has been an enabler; allowing GP practices to run group video consultations (video group clinics) for groups of patients with the same long term health condition. This is helping GPs and practice nurses to cope with the rising demand for care and with maintaining QOF and other mandated follow up reviews. As the leaders in mobilising video group clinics, Redmoor-ELC is supporting surgeries across England with the training and technical guidance to successfully deploy and embed this exciting new remote consultation model into their practices.
We are currently running a series of free webinars to raise awareness of how group video consultations are supporting transformation across the NHS. The one hour webinars are helping clinicians to make the most of video group clinics and to understand the tech equipment and available platforms. If you are interested in learning more, please click these links for registering to attend:
We also recommend that GP practices consider creating tech hubs, whereby a practice might be able to support a neighbouring practice. For example, there could be an area that is nervous about using video conferencing, but you could have another practice nearby that is good at it. What is to stop them collaborating to help each other? Office 365 is the platform that could make it happen!
The availability of apps within 365 can also be a huge game changer, as is the potential for integrating it into clinical systems, not to mention making use of AI technology that is offered by Microsoft. We think it will be transformational. I was talking to a diabetes nurse recently who had been on a brilliant awareness course and she wanted to find a way to cascade that learning to a network of 16 nurses. That is what Microsoft Teams does through Office 365. She can now run a presentation to all the other nurses and make it interactive!
Hopefully, Office 365 will soon be as widely used right across the NHS as it is in business, enabling GPs, consultants, nurses, social prescribers, pharmacists, therapists, paramedics, and support staff to communicate and share information more easily and efficiently.