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Healthcare efficiency through technology: how to spend less time on technology and more time with patients

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Already in its fifth year, the Healthcare Efficiency Through Technology (HETT) show that took place last week at Olympia promised to deliver a ‘unique insight into the government’s digital health agenda: and it didn’t disappoint. With speakers that included Andy Williams, chief executive of HSCIC and Paul Rice, head of technology strategy for NHS England, the event provided those responsible for IT in healthcare with an opportunity to hear how technology can drive efficiencies in healthcare.

We didn’t feel that healthcare technology should be limited to delivering efficiencies though. Yes, of course, IT managers are focused on doing more with less. Our recent ‘Journey to the Cloud’ research found that cost cutting was the public sectors biggest driver for implementing cloud services. However we also spent a lot of time talking to attendees about driving innovations in patient care, and this proved to be a popular topic.

Our partnerships with healthcare providers, such as Medica, Big Hand and System C, demonstrates how innovative technology applications can improve patient care in real time – whether that’s reviewing digital X-rays and CT scans to provide a remote diagnosis from anywhere or digital dictation software to help GPs write up notes in minutes.

However, what caused most people to stop by our stand and talk to us was our belief that healthcare providers can spend less time on technology and more time with patients. What does that mean? It’s simply that while technology needs to deliver BOTH innovation and efficiency, it should do so simply and easily. Whether that’s delivering access to applications at the point of care, supported by a wireless network or mobile solution, or whether that’s spending less time signing into a plethora of medical and administrative applications using ‘single sign on’ technology. Either way, IT can do this simply and easily.

As part of our discussions around simplicity, we also noted another hot topic for many providers: that of the need to connect to N3 - the NHS network. Some software vendors are still struggling to connect and we heard how ensuring compliance to what is one of the world’s most secure networks still can be a challenge. As part of our N3 connection and aggregation services we’ve driven down connection times for those in England and Wales from months to weeks. Talking to providers in Scotland however it appears that there is a real need for HSCIC to follow suit and authorise aggregation partners in Scotland as well.

The genuine passion to deliver improved patient care using technology was in evidence at HETT. It never ceases to amaze me how willing those in healthcare IT are to work in partnership with private vendors to deliver efficiencies and innovations. We’re keen to see those conversations continue, so that at the next HETT we’re able to hear from more healthcare technologists on the real life applications in action in the NHS and not just the strategy behind them.

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