As technology evolves, we have changed the way we communicate, learn, work and live.
Healthcare practice is empowering patients by giving them more control and accessibility. With high demands on healthcare staff, training needs to be faster, more efficient, and cost effective. So how exactly are these objectives being met?
How many times have you been unable to get a doctors appointment? This is the exact reason virtual doctors have emerged as a solution. By virtual, we don’t mean robots – real doctors are now accessible online, through mobile devices. The idea of virtual doctors was developed to reduce long waits and to improve quality, efficiency and patient experience.
Babylon, the UK’s leading digital health provider, developed ‘GP at hand’ – they provide free 24/7 access to a GP through an app. For some cases such as scans and tests, patients may need a follow up face to face appointment – but how we interact with the medical world is changing fast.
There are some barriers to apps such as Babylon; they require a certain budget, and time from GPs. Not only that, some GPs are hesitant to use apps as they aren’t familiar or comfortable with technology. It’s not hard to find inappropriate examples that have attracted criticism. New technology requires the right attitude, and the willingness to learn and adapt to achieve the efficiency and quality patients require.
Technology is now so pervasive that it has become integral to the business strategy of any corporation. From retail stores to healthcare companies, everyone is setting aside large sums to invest in technology because of the innovations it will engender.
Over the years we’ve also seen a rise in personal healthcare apps. Whether that be to track your activity throughout the day, fitness apps or checking your blood pressure, hydration and stress levels.
Samsung-health allows you to track all of this. Apps like these provide readily available, insightful data to those that require it. Keeping track of your own health can be both satisfying and motivating. More importantly, data like this can help health professionals to quickly analyse your health levels to provide treatment or advise further action, if needed.
Such technology allows more time for patient care, improving relationships between patient and clinician. Additionally, they allow more independence, self care, and better accessibility for patients – something that is crucial for today’s healthcare.
Nonetheless, how do those that work in healthcare make the digital transformation? For some, technology is new and so they aren’t comfortable with it, for others technology is in their nature. However, it’s important that all staff take on digital skills to ensure good practice for future work.
The RCN aim to make every UK nurse an e-nurse by 2020. To allow patients and citizens to benefit from the transformation, the RCN will ensure all nurses have the right skills to move forward. To do this, they are involving nurses and midwives in the design and implementation of IT, increasing access to education and training and utilising data to improve care.
Along with Health Education England (HEE), the RCN have developed a framework to improve the digital literacy of staff. The framework outlines digital capabilities which aims to help staff identify their development needs towards becoming digital. Additionally, it will help to inform local and national digital health strategies.
It is time to grasp this opportunity as the nursing and midwifery workforce is crucial to the successful outcome of this revolution. Developing these digital capabilities is the first step and the goal is to bring tangible benefits for citizens and patients.
Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary Royal College of Nursing
(Improving Digital Literacy, HEE)
St John ambulance and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) have both taken on a digital approach to healthcare training. Both services used Near-Life™ technology to train the public and employees. Our specialist technology revolutionises elearning through immersive, role-play experiences. Learners get to test their decision making skills through realistic scenarios to improve engagement and knowledge retention.
St John Ambulance used the technology to test the public’s skills in the face of a crisis. After a short pre-quiz, learners have to make the right decision with real life timings. The quick elearning session is an effective way to build up your confidence to help save a life.
To ensure patients receive the correct emergency response, the NWAS developed an elearning programme using Near-Life™ technology. The programme puts learners in the role of a dispatcher with real life situations and timings. Scenarios unfold dependent on decisions made, with an end goal of making learners more confident in making the right decision.
Learners are also tested with quizzes which provide learning managers with insights into their performance. These insights provide valuable data to highlight knowledge levels and any gaps that need to be covered.
Is healthcare heading in the right direction?
Whilst healthcare apps are making services more accessible, they are motivating us to stay on top of our health. These apps empower users, but, more importantly, are taking the pressure off healthcare workers.
The digital development within training is making sure workers are equipped with the skills they need to move forward in providing the best possible service. Additionally, with digital changes happening everywhere, these skills will also be useful beyond the workplace.
With these small changes coming into place, it seems healthcare is keeping up with the digital revolution. The changes explored give a glimpse of activity aimed at achieving the goal of improving patient services: to provide faster care, more control and improved accessibility.