For anyone who’s watched Game of Thrones on HBO (and that’s pretty much everyone), the ominous saying that ‘winter is coming’ can often ring true (and be just as scary) for hospitals, GP offices and healthcare providers. When temperatures drop, that means more people get sick with illnesses like the flu, bronchitis and could also lead to an increase in accidents on the road. All these scenarios mean one thing -- more people flooding doctors’ offices and hospitals. And there better be enough doctors, nurses, lab technicians and administrative staff on-hand to handle the rise in patients.
This has certainly been the case for the UK, in particular. According to stats released by NHS England, almost 40,000 people have already had to spend at least 30 minutes with an ambulance crew because emergency departments were too busy to accept them. Just think about the kind of operational strain the rise in flu and winter-related illnesses must be putting on the NHS and other healthcare providers.
While there’s no single answer to solving this major issue, technology can be a valuable tool to help the NHS, and other healthcare providers, solve these types of staffing issues when they do rise. Here’s how.
Technology can actually improve the quality of patient care
Unlike most other industries, the healthcare industry serves patients, who suffer from medical ailments, debilitating diseases and need regular check-ups to ensure they stay healthy and live long lives. Patient care has nothing to do with convincing someone to buy a product or service. It’s about the quality of the care - and that often comes down to how quickly they are seen by medical professionals, the ability to have necessary testing conducted on technical equipment and the follow-through.
For example, if all of the hospitals (and their frontline employees, such as doctors, nurses, etc.) under the NHS England system are all using the same internal communications platform, the NHS could easily and quickly notify the staff at certain hospitals of illness outbreaks or technical difficulties that could affect their ability to treat patients. You have to remember, healthcare workers don’t sit in front of a computer all day – they’re on their feet, rely on their mobile devices to access important messages/updates and are focused on treating patients thoroughly and efficiently. So if the X-ray machines in a certain hospital are not working, the technicians who operate the machines need to know about the issue and divert patients to another hospital. These types of issues can be resolved by using an internal communications app like Speakap (available on both iOS and Android) that keeps them connected and informed in real-time, 24/7.
When disease outbreaks/crises occur, technology can be your best ally
Throughout history, infectious diseases - and the subsequent outbreaks - have wreaked havoc on communities all over the world. In 1918, Spanish flu infected 500 million people around the world and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million people worldwide, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. There have been many others, from Tuberculosis to Ebola to SARS and many others.
I’m not trying to panic you about the spread of infectious diseases. What I do think is that, back when those infectious diseases had spread, the presence of an internal communications platform would have made such a difference in the speed with which care could have dispensed. Hospitals and medical professionals could have been informed quickly and easily about the expected increase in patients arriving, not to mention there could have special instructions provided about the symptoms to look out for and what types of precautions needed to be taken.
But if an infection disease were to spread now in the UK, for example, the NHS England could use an internal communications platform to easily and quickly notify the staff at certain hospitals of illness outbreaks or technical difficulties that could affect their ability to treat patients. It is important to remember that healthcare workers don’t sit in front of a computer all day – they’re on their feet, rely on their mobile devices to access important messages/updates and are focused on treating patients thoroughly and efficiently. So technology is a vital way to help the healthcare industry - and its many frontline workers - do just that.