Here at the DHC, we believe that digital solutions have the potential to transform the quality, experience and access of patient care. That’s why we’re calling for digital provision to be seen alongside face-to-face services as part of the package of modern healthcare.
What are we calling for
1. Equal and equitable access for all with digital as a choice
- We believe that all patients should be able to access the care they need, when they need it, and in the form that they want it.
- Evidence shows that what matters most to patients is easy and rapid access to a solution that addresses their need. The right channel will vary depending on the circumstances of each patient at each encounter. This might mean a remote consultation, another time it may be a referral for further investigation or treatment, and in many cases a face-to-face consultation is the right choice.
- Evidence shows that when patients have confidence that they’re being offered a range of high-quality options they choose digital solutions because they value the flexibility and convenience these offer. It may come as a surprise to some, but patient feedback shows that only 10% of patients choose face-to-face as their preferred channel for primary care.
- What’s more, because it’s easier for practices to provide digital options if they’re doing it correctly, then these free up capacity for face-to-face appointments for those who want and need them, improving access for all.
- Clearly, what matters most to patients is having access to the right range of channels to address their need.
- We shouldn’t be setting crude percentage targets for consultations by different channels. Rather, we should give a range of quality options and ensure we respect patients preferences.
2. Offer clinicians more flexibility and improve staff retention with remote working options
- With 2,000 fewer full-time GPs than there were in 2015 and appointment levels higher than ever before, there’s an urgent need to improve working conditions and make the most of our existing workforce.
- Remote working allows GPs – especially those looking for flexible working – to work more hours than they would if they were limited to face-to-face practice. Overall, this can allow GPs to deliver up to 25% more consultations per week.
- Enabling clinicians to work remotely is one of the ways we can increase capacity in our system, both by providing more consultations directly and by freeing capacity of those delivering face-to-face care through more traditional practices.
3. Transform health and care services and increase capacity with digital solutions at the centre
- With NHS hospital waiting lists at record-breaking levels and a consensus that the number of people will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, optimising processes and increasing capacity should be our highest priority.
- Digital solutions have an important role to play at every stage along the patient pathway, whether that’s enabling remote consultations and online triage, channelling patients to directly to the best option to provide their care or optimising clinical processes.
4. Supporting people in their homes and in the community
- While residential care is undoubtedly the right choice for some, many people want to maintain their independence living at home, but with support when they need it.
- Too often councils struggle to provide that support through traditional modes of provision, but there are alternative options that are available. By making the most of personal health budgets people are increasingly choosing to take control of their support by arranging care through digital options. That still means face-to-face support at home, but arranged directly with the care provider, rather than by the Council.
- Results show better support, greater satisfaction and fewer people needing to go into residential care.
5. Testing at scale
- Preventing infections spreading, and prompt treatment, is one of the most effective ways to maintain healthy populations and limit illnesses developing. In sexual health and other areas, that has traditionally meant inconvenient journeys to testing centres that are often put off, and a large number of staff required to carry out face-to-face testing who could be providing care elsewhere. Remote digital testing providers are increasingly providing a service that is much more convenient, more private, and can free significant resources to provide other much needed resources.
For supporting data, evidence and case studies; or to find out more about DHC members and digital provision, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)20 7018 1124.