Covid19, healthcare and general practice?

As a GP I know all too well how busy life can be in general practice with patients saying they ‘can’t get an appointment’ while we keep expanding our skill mix and employing more locum doctors to help manage increasing demand and workload.

I have been working remotely with patients using VitruCare for many years to manage chronic diseases and care home patients using video calls to transform care and manage patient demand,  however, with Covid-19 this way of working has been brought into sharp focus across the NHS and the world by this pandemic!

Covid 19 and the lockdown dramatically reduced the number of patients coming to the practice, we have had to change all our systems and processes for social distancing, isolation and ensure personal protective equipment was in place – this has been a shock to the whole NHS, patients and everyone. Patients remain worried about coming to the practice or going to the hospital in case they became infected with Covid-19. So, in one ‘fell swoop’ Covid-19 has leapfrogged the NHS to use digital services like never before despite previous attempts through national policy objectives!

Several weeks into the lockdown I continue to manage patients using remote consultations by phone, video, and email messaging, which many patients have accepted given the situation and the daily number of consultations are now rising. There are instances where face to-face consultations are needed, and these patients are seen with protective measures in place as appropriate. 

I get the sense from my daily conversations with patients that there is much anxiety about the crisis which is impacting the mental health of many patients. People are still not coming forward when they have problems and what happened to all the acute patients we used to see or the medical and surgical emergencies we referred into hospital? Also, the feedback from care homes show they are finding it difficult to cope with the crisis and there is the potential for Covid-19 to get worse before it improves in care homes. People generally cannot wait for this crisis to settle so some normality returns.

But what next?

I can imagine that once the lockdown is lifted, we will have long queues of patients outside the practice wanting appointments. In some cases, this will be justified, but in a large majority they will not need a face-to-face appointment and could be managed remotely.  Our own triage figures before the Covid-19 crises shows that up to 60% of patients do not need a face-to-face appointment and 75% of patients in a care home setting can be managed by video consultation using VitruCare services.

With the change in mindset and cultural shift resulting from the Covid-19 crisis in patients and NHS staff remote working is getting embedded in NHS and healthcare systems around the world ( evidence shows remote working is becoming more acceptable for both clinicians and patient, McKinseys Covid-19 Consumer Surveys 2020)  and we must ensure that we don’t return to the unmanageable situation before Covid-19.  Whilst manpower, and skill mix are important the opportunity to embed the use of digital health now firmly into routine working must be consolidated. VitruCare services developed by Dynamic Health Systems can understand patient requirements remotely using Ai and direct patients to interact with the practice so that their needs can be addressed in the most appropriate and streamlined way reducing the need for face-to-face consultations. These types of services can help manage the return to normality for patient benefit, help provider organisations manage demand, yield greater productivity, and enable the NHS to thrive.

Prof Shahid Ali

NHS Innovation Award 2013 for VitruCare

October 10, 2013

DHS was delighted to be announced winner of the Medipex NHS Innovation Award in the GP and Primary Care category. It is great honour to share the platform with important innovations made by the winners in the other categories and our fellow finalists.

As Medipex, healthcare innovation hub, explains: The Awards, now in their ninth year, are open to NHS staff members, academics and companies from across the Yorkshire and Humber and East Midlands regions. This year, entrants were asked to demonstrate how they were meeting the government’s Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) initiative to make the NHS more efficient through adoption of new technologies and cost-saving innovations.

North West London selects VitruCare for its Know Diabetes programme

The North West London collaboration of 8 CCGs has decided to combine the strengths of the VitruCare patient engagement solution from Dynamic Health Systems with the diabetes oriented content and capabilities from MyWay Digital Health to create a new Know Diabetes Service for the 2.4 million residents in the boroughs of Brent, Central London, Ealing Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and West London.

The service will have a website and app as its front end, with a contact centre to support patients and health data sharing across London NHS organisations enabling personalised advice, personalised digital engagement and services such as education in face-to-face sessions or e-learning.

Scheduled to go “live” in September 2019, the Know Diabetes service will no doubt prove to be ground breaking in its approach to reduce the impact of diabetes across a very large population.

SaTH wins HSJ Patient Safety Awards 2017

Congratulations to the SaTH team with this important award! Recognition from a national forum for the “triple win” of improving patient safety and patient experience while at the same time reducing inpatient days for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

At DHS we are very pleased that VitruCare played a role in enabling patients, nurses and doctors to innovate their working practices and make major steps to improve patient care and achieve their desired outcomes while enhancing safety.

3031736_Cancer-Care---Shrewsbury-and-Telford-Hospitals-Trust

4th July 2017

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust: Enabling citizens to actively self manage their cancer care

From Health Services Journal:

In association with Macmillan Cancer Care

Patient facing digital health services have enormous potential to improve patient safety, service quality, user experience and productivity.

In a project using the Vitrucare platform, teams at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust are able to offer highly patient focused services that allow people receiving chemotherapy to self monitor for important side effects of treatment, receive relevant multimedia information and, when necessary be in immediate contact with the local 24/7 Care Coordination Centre telephone ‘hotline’.

The approach has led to the appropriate avoidance of unplanned admissions to hospital and high levels of patient satisfaction.

The judges felt that the winning team was able to demonstrate how using digital technology, individual patient knowledge and clinical time, it is possible to achieve significant improvement in outcomes.

The work at SaTH was made possible by the financial support of the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund. Please click here for their news story on the award.

​​​​​​​​​​​Nuffield Trust reports on “Digital requirements for new primary care models”

April 2016

VitruCare is discussed as one of the promising digital models for transforming care. The report summarises:

Primary care is changing. New approaches to care delivery and organisational design are emerging in response to demographic changes, more complex patients and a range of policy and financial pressures. Technology is playing a central role in supporting the development of these new models, facilitating collaboration and integration across multiple care providers and settings; improving communication between patients and professionals; increasing efficiency and empowering patients to manage their health and wellbeing more effectively.

All of this technology is available now, but very few primary care providers are using it – and no single organisation is using all of it. However, some organisations have employed technology to support new ways of working, with positive results.”

The full report from the Nuffield Trust can be downloaded here.