Hi everyone, I’m Gupinder Syan. I’m the Healthcare Practice Lead at Hable, and a Pharmacist by background.
Moving away from my traditional pharmacy role into one that focuses on helping people in healthcare embrace new digital technologies, has been both a huge challenge and an exciting new journey.
With personal, first-hand experience of working on the NHS front-line and feeling frustrated with the way technology was being used, it’s been a great opportunity over the last 10 months to be on the other side of this, helping other healthcare professionals work in new and more efficient ways.
1. Technology isn’t a priority
Technology is, generally, not at the front of people’s minds when undertaking their day-to-day jobs. They’re more focused on looking after patients and saving lives – and rightly so! So as technology partners, we need to be able to help them to understand the benefits of new technology and what impact it will make to their working lives as well as to their patients.
Ultimately, we do this by focusing on how the technology will free up time to allow them to provide a better service to patients.
2. Healthcare tech challenges are universal
By working closely with healthcare staff on their digital transformation projects and having my own frontline experience, I’ve learnt that any challenges being faced in a healthcare organisation are also being faced by everyone else in other healthcare organisations.
If there’s a problem or challenge in one NHS Trust, it’s probably being faced in another NHS Trust somewhere else too. But why is this important? Well, it means we can all learn from each other, share best practice and ultimately improve the efficiency of healthcare technology on a national scale.
3. Healthcare staff want the same things from their technology
Not only are the challenges common between different organisations, but what the organisations want from their technology is similar, too.
In all of the fantastic projects I’ve been involved in at Hable over the last 10 months, there are some common ideals that we have identified that keep coming up time and time again. Generally, most healthcare staff I’ve worked with would like to see:
• A reduction in email traffic
• A reduction in time spent on administrative tasks
• More time to see patients
• No more back to back or bloated meetings
• A reduction in multiple versions of working documents
• Better sharing of information across organisations
These are all things that technology can help with.
4. To successfully create change, healthcare organisations need change management
In order for change to be successful in healthcare organisations, you need a proper change management strategy. To change the hearts and minds of people and encourage the successful adoption of new technology, you first need great advocacy from a sponsor and buy-in from managers. Without this, it might be hard to get your change programme off the ground.
It’s also important to have an impactful comms plan that engages your internal stakeholders and accurately conveys the benefits of the new technology. Finally, I’ve seen the huge importance of a team of passionate and committed Digital Champions, who have been key in spreading the learnings at scale throughout the organisations we’ve worked with.
New small, incremental changes in ways of working using technology can dramatically improve productivity and workload, leading to improved employee wellbeing across your healthcare organisation.
5. Despite this, change management is often an after thought
A lot of organisations think that when their new technologies are deployed, the project is done.
But actually, this is just the start.
Change management of new technology is often an after thought, that organisations look to bring in once their technology is deployed and adoption is low. Almost every customer I’ve spoken to about change management regrets not having scoped it in from the beginning of their digital transformation plans.
6. Healthcare organisations don’t unlock the full potential of tech
One trend I’ve seen in my first 10 months working in digital healthcare, is that healthcare organisations do not tend to utilise the full capabilities of platforms that they have invested in.
If we take Microsoft 365 for example, it tends to be that many organisations will use Microsoft Teams chat and that’s about it – there‘s no deeper dive into the many capabilities that you can use with the platform. We’ve seen this then lead to multiple subscriptions to other applications. Not only does this actually overlap functionality, it’s a waste of vital time and money.
7. Automation in healthcare is key
The automation of processes will help to create huge time efficiencies, alleviate pressures on healthcare workers, and help to increase the time that can be dedicated to focusing on patients.
There are so many incredible, life-saving ways that automation can be used in healthcare, including:
• Streamlining various approvals processes
• Monitoring beds available in a hospital
• Improving the processes of ordering equipment, drugs or products
• Easily accessing patient data
Custom built workflows can be key in improving efficiency, saving money and delivering a better experience for healthcare workers and patients.
8. Frontline workers can’t be left behind
From the projects I’ve worked on, I feel like there is a lot of work still to be done to reach front-line workers. It’s easy, in a digital transformation project, to get office based staff working in new ways, but there’s more to be done to enable our frontline staff to work more efficiently.
There is technology out there available for frontline workers to use, and they can’t be left behind in your digital projects.
Having front-line workers being active participants as part of any healthcare digital transformation strategies and plans is key to success.
9. IT infrastructure within the NHS needs improving
The overall IT infrastructure within the NHS needs improving across the board, with NHS Digital stating they are “continuing to improve the infrastructure by connecting platforms and applications.”
Managing the IT infrastructure will allow technology to work more seamlessly, increase productivity, and free up more time for patient care. With 56% of healthcare workers also reporting that the current IT infrastructure significantly increases their day to day workload, it’s clear that improving this will see huge positive change in employee wellbeing.
10. We must prioritise using tech to manage wellbeing
Finally, the main learning is that even in digital healthcare, we need to focus on wellbeing.
The pandemic has stretched the NHS in unimaginable ways and has added to an already busy workload, not only with a back-log of clinical work, but with the administrative burden of running vaccination hubs and collating national data. Our healthcare workers are at the highest ever risk of burnout – so we should be prioritising the focus on technology to manage their wellbeing.
The tech we have at our fingertips can alleviate the stress and burnout felt by healthcare workers, by helping to reduce workload, preventing a build–up of emails or tasks by working more collaboratively live or in real-time and, ultimately, saving precious time.
Helping your healthcare organisation or NHS Trust work in new and more efficient ways
I’d be interested to have a chat with others who work in Digital Healthcare about the things you’ve learnt along the way – please reach out to me on LinkedIn! Alternatively, if you’d like to discuss how Hable can help with anything I’ve talked about in this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.