Manage the care backlog
Two years after the pandemic, governments around the world have begun to relax their social distancing policies. However, the healthcare system continues to be severely impacted by ongoing infections, and a growing patient backlog awaits planned treatments.
Although vaccines have been very successful in reducing hospital admissions and deaths, infection control policies continue to affect the regular operation of our hospitals. In many ways, COVID-19 has created the perfect storm. It comes at a time when many health care systems are already under severe strain, dealing with a growing disease burden among aging populations and chronic staff shortages.
The pandemic has suspended most non-emergency, elective procedures and ambulatory care; As a result, the care backlog increases. In the UK alone, 6 million people are waiting for treatment by the end of December 2021. An estimated 8 million people have undiagnosed diseases and these are the people who stay away from their healthcare providers. for fear of contracting COVID-19.first The situation is similar in Europe and North America, with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reporting a significant number of people with long-term medical conditions lack essential aspects of their care. .2
“Necessity is the mother of innovation,” they say, which is clearly the case with the pandemic. The rapid development of vaccines, the use of new drugs to treat infected patients, and the spectacular acceleration of virtual care have painted a picture of innovation. In the wake of the pandemic, some commentators argue that this innovation should continue alongside recovery, giving countries a unique opportunity to change things for the better, tackle inequality health and increased sustainability.3
From a technology perspective, healthcare providers can use the lessons learned throughout the pandemic. They can implement new methods to accelerate the flow of patients from their backlog to treatment and then rapid discharge and rehabilitation.
At each stage of this journey, keep in regular contact with the patient will be critical to the success of the entire process. In many ways, the operational complexity of managing backlogs, medical capacity, and staff schedules duplicates the complexity and interdependence of the underlying technical infrastructure. . Keeping the patient rapidly flowing through the system requires that every gear in that system be in perfect working order, every time.
Adopting a cross-architectural perspective on IT infrastructure and a platform approach will enable healthcare providers to accelerate their digital capabilities, automating patient access through technology and self-serviceand increased patient flow through the continuum of care.4
From the patient’s perspective, healthcare providers should deploy digital solutions that can:
- Take advantage of the pre-treatment time to educate and inform patients about their condition5
- Monitor for changes in circumstances that may alter treatment or priority pathways
- Collect preoperative information and prepare patient for admission
- Streamline your journey through hospitals by tracking people and assets
- Reduce patient length of stay by enabling patients to go home as soon as they are medically fit
- Prevent unnecessary recurrence by providing care or tele-monitoring after acute
- Observe each stage of the digital journey to ensure it is meeting expectations
Ultimately, the number of patients waiting for treatment will normalize as care teams have the capacity to treat them. While automated processes and artificial intelligence enhance a healthcare professional’s skills, they will never replace human touch. To address workforce challenges, healthcare providers will need to re-imagine clinical operations and adopt technology-driven processes to increase efficiency. This will ease the burden on healthcare workers and keep everyone in the health care profession.
Rapid innovation was popular at the height of the pandemic, with virtual care become the norm. Although the direct impact of the pandemic on society is diminishing, more people are still waiting for treatment than ever before. To address this backlog, healthcare providers must continue to innovate and expand their digital offerings by investing in their underlying technical infrastructure, applying take a cross-architecture approach and ensure that their digital solutions provide an easy experience for patients and staff.
- NHS backlog and wait times in the UK
- Rise from the COVID 19 crisis: Policy responses in the long-term care sector
- WHO Declaration on healthy recovery from COVID-19
- Play Platform: How it works like a tech company
- NHS Wait Well Program