For many years we have talked to IT people, about IT things. The outcome has often led to us successfully delivering IT solutions both in the NHS and elsewhere. For almost as many years, I have personally been advocating a focus on proactivity and the end-user experience, rather than reactivity and the delivery of generic solutions - this time with varying degrees of success.
Recently, for the first time, I decided to really stand by what I’ve preached and speak to people in the NHS who are responsible for the patient experience, rather than networks and IT. My aim was simple – to communicate how our seemingly boring IT technologies can have a massive impact on the people that matter in the NHS – the patients.
It worked. Last week I ended up meeting with the first NHS Trust where we were talking communications and patient experience instead of IT – and it was unbelievably refreshing. Not only was it brilliant for me to be talking about something different, in a different context, for the first time in years, but the people we were talking to genuinely seemed to appreciate and understand the potential values of technology in their day to day roles. More importantly, they could see lots of new ways to apply technology that they have already invested in and make it do more for their patients – much more!
We talked about technology from any number of different angles and explored options for the use of technology for mass patient communication, bespoke meal ordering, cutting DNA rates, reducing waiting times and enabling patient access to any number of other existing patient services. I can almost hear the cries of “we can already do those things” from here – but the question that was discussed most during that meeting was “Do Patients know we can do those things?”, closely followed by “Do patients have access to those services?”. The answers were mixed, but the overwhelming feeling was that these things could be done better or improved upon and that the Trust were not getting the best out of these services.
I won’t name the organisation or the individuals involved, but I sincerely hope that they are representative of a broader commitment from the NHS to really understanding technology and starting to put it to use serving patients, as opposed to driving technology change for the sake of change, as I believe has sometimes been the case across the public sector.
I don’t profess to have become an overnight expert in these things, and I can’t promise that I’ll be able to answer every question or solve every problem – but I’d love to hear from anyone in the NHS who shares my passion for technology that puts that patient first – and I’d definitely love to have more conversations like those. I’ll update here as things hopefully develop and I continue to learn, but if you would like to get in touch – please feel free to give me a call – 0207 749 0809.