The challenges faced by the NHS are no secret. Growing backlogs, continuing difficulties in hiring and retaining staff, and increasing monetary pressures mean that our health and care systems must modernise to deliver services efficiently. Data from NHS England shows that more than 7.5 million people were waiting to begin hospital treatment in 2023.
HM Government has developed strategies such as Data Saves Lives to combat these challenges and modernise the services through the implementation of technical solutions and smarter ways of working. One of the prime objectives of this strategy is to “ensure the data architecture underpinning the health and care system can easily work together to make more effective and efficient use of data”. The aim is to create a joined-up health service in which communication and collaboration is quick, secure and flexible. But just how far has our health and care system come in adopting this infrastructure? What are the main methods of back-office communication and how are they affecting the delivery of this vital service?
Stepping away from fax and post
To answer these questions, RingCentral, in collaboration with GovNewsDirect, recently conducted a wide-reaching survey to gain a deeper understanding of how public sector organisations are making use of the latest communications technology. The survey found that 11% of public sector organisations are using post internally. This figure rose to 23% across health and care organisations. Almost a quarter of NHS organisations are reliant on internal mail for inter-team working and 20% are regularly using fax. This use of legacy hardware and methods of communication is problematic. The reliance on non-instantaneous methods of communication means that vital decisions and information cannot be acted upon efficiently. If there is no evidence of these interactions, for example if they are not logged within a CRM, then there is no hope for staff members having access to past conversations and vital information. The joined-up approach to healthcare relies on conversations being logged within an internal system and infrastructure, not siloed within specific legacy hardware and workflows.
Becoming data efficient
The lack of any digital paper trail also means that data cannot be extracted from these conversations. An adept and efficient use of data, as previously stated, is at the forefront of HM Government’s objectives for the future of the NHS. If these conversations were logged, specific information about the patient’s or staff’s circumstances could also be logged. This would become part of a wider anonymous data pool that staff members could study. This results in the improvement of care as staff can identify trends within the data that suggest issues. For example, why a specific age group is having more trouble accessing online care than others. These issues can then be addressed simply by identifying correlations within the data set.
Our health and care systems need to update their methods of back-office communication. There are a myriad of modern solutions that log internal communications and provide valuable data to be studied, helping to create more streamlined and accessible services. Solutions as simple as cloud telephony or instant messaging would give workforces a familiar and easy way to improve the efficiency of their workflows. Ultimately enhancing staff quality of life and improving the services provided.
Connect, Communicate and Collaborate
Our new whitepaper Connect, Communicate and Collaborate addresses the need for the modernisation of back-office communications. It takes the reader on a deep dive into our survey’s findings and maps out how solutions, such as cloud telephony, can revolutionise our health and care systems. The white paper explores:
- The current challenges faced by the NHS and secondary care
- An analysis of the current methods of communication in back-office operations.
- The ability to retain staff and keep morale high
- The lessons learnt from the pandemic
- The willingness of citizens to adopt change in accessing care
- The importance of a cultural shift in care towards a digital-first approach
HM Government. “Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data.” GOV.UK, 15 June 2022, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/data-saves-lives-reshaping-health-and-social-care-with-data/data-saves-lives-reshaping-health-and-social-care-with-data#developing-the-right-technical-infrastructure. Accessed 12 September 2023.
Originally published Nov 09, 2023