Without a doubt, the current pandemic has been a life changing event for us all. As a result, the NHS has seen a huge change in behaviour, not just in the way COVID-19 patients are treated but in the way all patients are managed and treated.
Technology is being prioritised as never before, as a tool to assist with managing and communicating with patients, to help ensure the underlying values and principles of the NHS are sustained.
Doctors are turning to the likes of Skype and WhatsApp to carry out clinics, rather than bringing patients into hospitals for physical appointments. Almost everyone you speak to, without exception, will give you examples of how they are now using technology and virtual interactions in a way that many had been trying to promote for years, but for a plethora of reasons, had never been possible to entrench into everyday working practices.
The Covid pandemic has seen a watershed, triggering a silent revolution and a forced change of culture and behaviour, resulting in the pervasive use of technology to support the management and care of patients. It is a change that many had pushed for over many years but had often and usually met resistance, from either the clinical team, admin staff, patients or a combination thereof.
This forced culture change has catapulted the NHS into a new world, a world that has the potential to drive efficiencies that many have long believed possible. This new world order may be the saviour of the NHS, driving out inefficient and ineffective working practices that often see patients waiting in clinics, having taken precious time off work, only to be told all is fine and they are discharged. Efficiencies that will allow patients in need of urgent care, historically having to wait weeks before an appointment, to be prioritised based on need as opposed to queue length.
This new and almost forced embracing of technology may not only result in more appropriate and timely care and treatment of patients, but may also result in a huge financial benefit to the NHS, where money can be spent and directed towards those who need it most, when they need it most.
This silent revolution is just beginning, and the story will be fascinating to follow, as it unfolds, with a raft of unforeseen consequences.