Communication channels within healthcare have long been the focus of improvement schemes. Waiting times at receptions, call waiting times, and the immediate accessibility of treatments have all been scrutinised.
With the digital strategy, ‘A plan for digital health and social care’, HM Government is setting ambitious goals to revolutionise the communication channels of the NHS. The main focus is the NHS app. The strategy aims to put “NHS services in people’s pockets through digital channels – over the next three years, we will increase the functionality of the NHS App and website to offer features that help people stay well, get well and manage their health”. This falls under the broad goal of ‘Supporting independent, healthy lives’, meaning that service users have more agency in accessing care, accessing notifications about their treatment, and corresponding with NHS staff around the clock.
But what is the current state of communications within healthcare, and how can healthcare organisations improve services beyond solutions like the NHS app?
Could hybrid communication methods improve patient support?
RingCentral, in collaboration with GovNewsDirect, recently conducted a wide-reaching survey to understand better how public sector organisations use the latest communications technology. The survey found that 96% of respondents said that they were reliant on email. This demonstrates the need for the public sector to diversify its communication methods.
The stakes of patients potentially missing a notification about their care are much higher. For example, if an elderly, vulnerable patient were to miss a notification because it was only sent through the NHS app, the effects could be life-threatening. On the other hand, if organisations offered video conferencing more widely to patients, vulnerable patients could access treatment quickly from the comfort of their own homes.
Solutions such as video conferencing could be instrumental in reducing patient backlogs and improving access to services. Patient portals, similarly, have provided a centralised digital space for staff members to work through requests in their own time. All of this tells us that different solutions help solve various problems. If digital methods already help, then wider adoption of such solutions (done in the right way and for the right reasons) could help improve services and accessibility.
What is healthcare’s communication conundrum?
The second episode in our brand-new podcast series, ‘Public Sector’s Communication Conundrum’, explores what’s stopping healthcare from adopting (or at least fully embracing) digital communication solutions. It highlights the need for a hybrid approach to digital adoption in the NHS to ensure that vulnerable citizens are not left behind.
Hosted by Mark Blanchard (Public Sector Director, GovNewsDirect), this informative conversation features Paradip Karanjit (Deputy Chief Operating Officer, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust), who shares learnings from implementing digital communication solutions in healthcare.
The conversation explored questions such as:
- Which communication channels do trusts use to communicate with patients?
- How do trusts measure the effectiveness of their communication channels to enhance patient experiences?
- Can organisations proactively address the disparities between external and internal communication channels?
- How can overcoming technology silos help bridge the gap between internal and external communication methods?
- How well does the NHS use current communication channels integrating with business applications?
- What steps are being taken to address integration challenges?
In addressing these topics, this podcast explores how organisations can implement digital solutions whilst still caring for those who are less digitally connected.
Visit our podcast page to listen to our other podcasts and learn more about modern communication solutions.
Javid, Sajid. “A plan for digital health and social care.” GOV.UK, 29 June 2022, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-plan-for-digital-health-and-social-care/a-plan-for-digital-health-and-social-care#summary. Accessed 30 August 2023.
Originally published Sep 21, 2023