Adapting their existing digital framework, SymlConnect address the severe outpatient waiting list backlog created by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, to enable secure patient-clinician remote communication
As NHS staff continue their unyielding efforts in the fight to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, the national picture of the unforeseen crisis data has begun to emerge. Nationwide the NHS has experienced significant backlogs in secondary care referrals review.
A widely recognised positive change, ushered in by the pandemic, has been the accelerated adoption of innovative digital technology, replacing manual processes to meet the demands required to protect, treat and monitor the population. Assistive and communication technology open up the visibility of patient flow and caregiving, based on informed decision making. Such use of technology aids to eliminate the possibility of human error whilst reducing avoidable costs.
Welsh NHS figures revealed a waiting time of over 36 weeks towards the end of 2020, an increase of 1,600% in some areas. The logistics involved in the traditional face-to-face element was made considerably more complicated due to the contagious nature of the virus, and the time availability of all human resources, including cleaning and sanitising support. Patients faced their own inconveniences of attending a clinic under such adverse situations. Existing manual procedures result in high percentage of non-attendance (DNA) consequently adding delays, plus valuable time and cost wastages.
SymlConnect offers a unique way of virtual working via secured communication with patients for consultations, online testing where feasible and streamlining processes via automation and interoperability. Flagging threshold levels for priority patient identification is a core attribute for precedence, initiating the next level of caregiving.
A desirable solution
The desirable solution is a secure remote communication system with full patient-clinician communication, video conference calls, consultation input, relevant patient-initiated activities and data sharing to primary and community sectors. The system needs to deliver the care for patients in a prudent and value-based way as a sustainable healthcare model for the future.
SymlConnect proposes a modular system based on their existing framework, permitting interoperability with clinical/ administrative systems, enhancing the clinical time use whilst reducing administrative time. The need to capture precise and granular clinical documentation, at the point of care, has become increasingly important to enable data sharing to utilise single-entry, multiple use of data. The system, consequently, will be easing both appointment making and consulting support for all users.
The communication system would allow clinicians to create appointment slots according to their time availability, and for patients to have the flexibility to ‘choose’ slots according to their own suitability. Patient-initiated follow-ups empower patients, encouraging self-management with a better understanding of their conditions.
The system also intends to include online tests, by partnering with independent organisations. Email or SMS messages would be used for information giving, utilising questionnaire assignment for patients to respond from the comfort of their own homes and triggering auto-reminders. (Figure 1)
SymlConnect’s existing framework
SymlConnect has developed a standards-based multi-tiered modular software framework of patient-clinician communication, comprising components for data capturing, data management, protocol building, communication technology and integration engine to share information anytime and anywhere. Role-based user authentication, interactive reporting and respective clinical pathway logics are built in according to the protocols. The flexible framework could be adapted to develop an asynchronous, seamless solution with user-friendly frontends and processes.
Additionally, an interactive reporting with data visualisation module facilitates fast patient data analysis via R-A-G (Red/Amber/Green) threshold alerting, flagging up urgent concerns to prompt essential preventative action depending on the clinical pathway aspirations. View the SymlConnect Remote Patient Monitoring article here.
Collaborative approach to development
SymlConnect has joined hands with Cwm Taf ENT consultant Mr Mouli Doddi to design such an automated seamless, digital virtual consultation platform, with a more self-directed model of patient care, facilitating improved communication between patients and clinical teams. The video conferencing calls encompass radical elements for interactive communication for waiting patients and consulting facilities for the clinician to experience a higher quality of flexibility. The user-friendly system aims to reduce the estimated cost of delivery for the current waiting list by one-third, whilst delivering more than double the number of consultations on a monthly basis. The estimated time of delivery, compared to the existing traditional methods, would be reduced drastically.
Embracing new communication technology requires buy-in at every level for implementation. The aim is to ease the process flow without demanding any extra resources or extended learning times.
This Cwm Taf proposal, titled ‘Consult Smartly’ was chosen as one of the 2020 Welsh Health Hack winners, SymlConnect is proud to be partnering and delivering such an innovative challenge.
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© 2019. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.