How will the healthcare industry evolve to meet the demands of a post-pandemic society?
Our healthcare systems have been under strain like never before and our reliance on them is greater than ever. Yet, with challenge has come resilience, progress and achievement. How has the industry evolved in the last 12 months and what can your workplace learn from this? What have been the advances that will change your healthcare experience? How is a return to work impacting mental health? What should the future of healthcare look like in our new digital, hybrid world? Our healthcare experts Wais Shaifta from Push Doctor, Dr Raj Nair from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and Tim Sacks from the NHS Covid Vaccination Programme joined us to discuss how we can tackle health disparities and ensure that our futures are not only healthy, but also equitable and resilient. Watch session recording below.
Meet Our Inspiring Speakers
Wais Shaifta, CEO at Push Doctor and NED at the Gym Group
When it comes to healthcare innovation, Wais knows that technology is a means, not an end. Wais was previously global operations director at wellness appointment provider Treatwell and helped drive food delivery platform Just Eat’s international expansion over a six-year period. He has a wealth of consumer and product development expertise within the disruptive consumer technology sector, as well as a deep understanding of how to realise disciplined expansion through the implementation of an effective fast-growth strategy. Wais is committed to making healthcare accessible at any time, on any device, allowing patients to be in control of their health data with the ultimate goal for patients to become more engaged in preventative care and wellbeing.
Raj Nair, Consultant urological surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’
Cancer expert and technology lover, Rajesh Nair has completed three advanced fellowship training programmes in robotics, uro-oncology and reconstructive urology. He also has a specific interest in bringing innovation to healthcare to improve patient outcomes. A member of Guy’s Cancer Centre and committed to surgical education through his membership of prominent urological and surgical associations, Raj is frequently invited to lecture in meetings internationally. In all that he does, he inspires confidence, explaining the treatment and helped his patients to make informed decisions.
Tim Sacks, Head of Operations for the Covid Vaccination Programme
Tim has worked for the NHS for seventeen years, seven of these at a board level executive director, where he has built a reputation as a trusted, enthusiastic and passionate partner with strong relationships across providers, clinicians, regulators, councils and patient groups within the health and social care sectors. Tim has significant leadership experience in integrated care systems, leading the design of seamless health and care services resulting in improved clinical, organisational and financial outcomes. Today he is leading the vaccine programme across the Midlands – a world recognised exercise to protect the most vulnerable people from coronavirus with the potential to save tens of thousands of lives.
The future of healthcare
Healthcare systems across the world have been at the epicentre of the pandemic. And, in the UK, doctors and nurses in the NHS have been praised for their crisis response. But what will happen now, as the institution emerges, into a technology-driven world and changing patient expectations?
The past 12 months have shone a spotlight on our healthcare system: from its ability to cope under extreme pressure, to the swift delivery of the vaccine programme – the NHS “has never been better than it is at this time”, according to Tim Sacks, who is running the Covid vaccine programme in the Midlands.
But the period has created new pressures for the much-loved national institution, which is beginning to emerge from the eye of the storm. Waiting lists for non-Covid related conditions have increased and much of the workforce is exhausted and burned out. In addition, the rampant march of technology is providing new ways for patients to access appointments, and demand just keeps growing.
“We’ve got a patient demographic that is more conscious about their health because of what’s happened,” said Wais Shaifta, chief executive at Push Doctor, which provides online video appointments. “We’ve done a lot over the past 10 to 20 years around prevention as a cure. But how can you get an 18-year-old to be conscious about their health? A health event usually has to happen for them to take notice. We’ve now got these conscious patients and demand that hasn’t been seen before.”
Platforms like Push Doctor have been complemented in the past 12 months by GP surgeries offering their own online appointments. Patients have been able to access help and advice by telephone and video consultation. This represents an important shift for the NHS, which is able to match clinicians with patients more quickly, as a result. But it also places challenges on a system that is already stretched.
“Doctors can have a consultation with someone over video conference,” said Tim Sacks. “They might have a dermatological problem, for example, and patients can send a photo securely, which goes onto their records. The doctor can make a diagnosis, usually within an eight-minute appointment. That’s a dream world from what happened in general practice even two years ago.
“But online consultations for the NHS doesn’t mean there’s additional capacity; it has to be done instead of something,” he added. “So, I think we may have created a monster, in that everybody can access whoever they want, when they want. We’ll need to consider a cultural change in the way that healthcare is perceived.”
Everyone agreed that using quality data would be key to improving the NHS. This would also help to relieve pressure on the system, they said. But it’s clear there is some way to go before data is used consistently. Tim Sacks described some real innovation in the vaccine programme. But, at the same time, Raj Nair, consultant urological surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, shared a different story.
“The level of data we have on patients has also increased with technology, said Sacks. “For example, we can understand more about people who specifically need vaccinating, by practice, and by postcode. We’ve been able to go and knock on doors and vaccinate people. We’ve never been able to do that in the NHS before. And that’s only going to improve our ability to manage healthcare in the long run.”
In contrast, Raj Nair said that a few years ago, a male patient arrived at hospital for an operation. At the front desk, he was asked for his name, date of birth and whether he had any allergies. He openly shared the information, and then proceeded up to the next floor, to speak with another team. But they asked him the same questions.
The process happened again and again, as the patient continued through the hospital. Once he reached the area outside the operating theatre, another team started again. But this time he packed his bags and left. When the hospital contacted him to ask why, he said there were just too many opportunities for errors to be made.
“One thing the NHS lacks, when you compare it to healthcare organisations across the world, is the ability to accurately collate and process data in real time. There’s often a bit of a lag,” said Raj Nair. “There is a need for better data collection; there’s a need for much more accurate data in the healthcare system.”
Naturally, there are also concerns that patient data is protected against companies looking to profit as records become digitised. According to Wais Shaifta, the procurement frameworks used by the NHS are important and help to maintain information security. But he is quick to add that they need to be enforced.
“There are a number of different frameworks in order to partner with the NHS as a provider,” he said. “Once you go through those regulations, which now include things like GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] and ISO 27001, you get the permissions and assurances you need. But patient consent has to be considered as well.
“Prior to our consultations, we are very clear to ask patients if they are comfortable with their data being accessed by a clinician. If they say ‘no’, then fine, their data won’t be accessed. There are going to be companies who are unethical, but through legislation and frameworks, we have to control that.”
Tim Sacks added: “I think the GDPR rules in the NHS are very strict, even to the point that I can never see patient records. I can see proxy records, but I can’t see patient identifiable ones. The only people who can see those are doctors. In every accident and emergency department in every hospital, you can access GP records; and remember, if you download the NHS app, you’ve got all of your records, too.
“But companies are now entering into the fold of patient level data in a way they probably haven’t done before. It’s always been relatively internalised within the NHS. So, the government needs to make sure there are very clear guidelines on using data.”
That said, the future of healthcare will depend on embracing data like never before. As the vaccination programme rolls out, the insight that Tim Sacks talks about, provides a unique opportunity to help patient groups that were previously hard to access. At the same time, technology platforms will help triage patients towards the right point of care, more quickly.
Clinicians like Raj Nair also believe that common data sets are the key to everything. He thinks that technology, and external partners, can help to improve workflow planning and patient planning, too. That’s good news in a system that will be working hard to reduce waiting lists and return to business as usual this year.
“In future, working with other partners, in the private healthcare sector and healthcare technology, will be important,” he said. “I think the NHS needs to recognise this, and making a silo out of itself, is probably not the way to go right now. It can gain that help from everyone.”
Tim, Raj and Wais were speaking on series five of Protiviti’s collaboration forum, which has been held online on Thursday mornings during the past year. To find out more about the event, which will now run until then end of June 2021, click here.
Click below to view the entire series