Options for managing the waiting list crisis

Even before Covid, the NHS was under significant pressure with demand consistently outstripping capacity. Covid has deepened that situation into a crisis with waiting lists at unprecedented levels and elective treatments delayed that could have life shortening consequences for many of those waiting.

In the House of Commons evidence hearing on 02/11/211, it was estimated the NHS will need to increase its capacity to 30% above pre-pandemic levels. This is equivalent to 4,000 more doctors and 18,000 more nurses.

The reality is that even if there was an unlimited budget, the NHS could not conjure up the additional doctors and nurses, support staff, clinic slots and operating theatres required to resource the deficit.

The situation cannot go unchecked as it will only deteriorate further, to the detriment of patients and the mental and physical wellbeing of the NHS staff trying to manage what is tantamount to an unmanageable situation.

The only option is to look at different ways of treating patients without compromising patient care and ideally, enhancing the quality of care.

Technology and digital solutions have to be leveraged to accelerate elective recovery.

According to Tara Donnelly, Chief Digital Officer at NHSX2, there are already some great health tech initiatives such as virtual wards, digital collaboration and digital playbooks – a type of best practice case study for digital transformation.

The private sector, often more agile at meeting demand spikes, offers amazing innovation to the NHS in many different areas and the tsunami of urgent demand that the NHS now faces requires extraordinary measures to survive.

Technology Solutions in Action

Barts Health has been using Amplitude’s digital outcomes platform for several years and saw the opportunity to use the system to monitor Covid patients remotely with minimal administrative overhead. The system automatically contacts patients to request they complete clinical scores that assess pain and severity levels as well as their quality of life. The scores and responses are reviewed by the clinical team who then assess which patients need to attend the clinic and those who do not, thereby only bringing patients into the Trust when their needs dictate.

By requesting these scores to be completed by patients on a regular basis, Barts Health has been able to monitor their patients remotely and identify in real-time if they are deteriorating.

The system is also able to alert clinical teams when a patient’s scores deteriorate outside of the expected range, so they can proactively intervene as necessary.

In a recent article3 that looks at the Post-Covid symptoms reported, Barts Health described how they were able to monitor 675 patients, using this virtual review pathway, stratified by severity of acute Covid infection.

From a Trusts’ perspective, using a platform like Amplitude can allow multiple NHS specialties to review and triage the thousands of patients added daily to the already extensive and growing waiting lists using validated questionnaires specific to the patient’s condition, without filling valuable clinic time. Barts Health is utilising Amplitude in the Trauma, Orthopaedics & Spine, Cardiology, Respiratory departments and PHD Studies, with several other teams currently either onboarding or applying to use the service.

The responsive and intuitive nature of Amplitude’s platform means that data entry is reduced, and data collection processes automated. Any admin support available can be directed to supporting patient engagement and clinical compliance.

The patient benefits as they continue to have interaction with the Trust and have a level of reassurance that their health and symptoms are being reviewed.

If you’d like to find out more about using Amplitude as a technology that can support your department, hospital or Trust in the pandemic recovery, contact one of our team today.

 

1 https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2942/html/

2 https://www.nhsx.nhs.uk/blogs/can-digital-help-our-elective-recovery/

3 https://www.rcpjournals.org/content/clinmedicine/21/4/e384

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