According to a report by the British Medical Association (BMA), at the start of the year, almost 6.2 million people were waiting for treatment.
Despite some improvements, waiting times remain significantly higher than pre-Covid levels. Over 2 million patients have been waiting for treatment for over 4 months. While the number of patients waiting over 12 months stands at 300,000. This is 186 times the number of patients waiting over a year pre-Covid in February 2020.
This waiting list crisis is not going to fix itself. And without the necessary operating space, equipment and staffing levels, capacity can only be stretched so far. The Welsh Government understand this and has introduced a £60million scheme to target waiting times over the next four years. Eluned Morgan, the Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services, has promised that by Spring 2025 nobody in Wales would wait more than a year for treatment.
For this scheme, and any future schemes, to be successful the main priority has to be to transform how patients are assessed and treated. One obvious option is to leverage technology to support that transformation. But there must not be a compromise in patient care when doing so, if anything care quality should improve as a result of using technology.
Mid and South Essex Care Partnership Integrated Care System (ICS) has recently incorporated a new platform that has created a single, system-wide patient tracking list. The hope is that this will create the foundation needed to support staff in tackling the backlog in elective care. The new platform will also help minimise long waits, ensure fair patient scheduling and maximise bed and theatre capacity.
This is a great step in tackling the current waiting list crisis. Especially as the Mid and South Essex Partnership is looking at their capacity across all the whole of the ICS, not on a hospital-by-hospital basis.
But what more could be done?
One option is to remotely monitor patients to ensure that should their symptoms deteriorate rapidly (or even improve) they are not simply left waiting due to there being an extensive waiting list. Instead, they should be managed and prioritised according to their personal situation.
Amplitude has a largely automated process that remotely collects severity scores from patients (PROMs). Our system enables clinicians to easily assess the severity and speed of deterioration. This automated process ensures that the patients most in need of treatment are easily identifiable. This provides a significant tool to aid both surgical and clinic waiting list management, optimising the care that the patients receive and optimising the use of NHS resources.
In addition, patients can be monitored remotely post-op. This means they don’t get scheduled for unnecessary or repetitive routine appointments, again saving precious NHS time and resources.
For more information on how Amplitude can help the NHS and other health organisations improve their waiting list management process, read our article Supporting healthcare organisations in 2022 or contact a member of our team.