No one could have predicted the scale and speed of how the Coronavirus has changed everyone’s lives and the role of digital has never been so relevant, keeping us connected and engaged with colleagues and clients and enabling a semblance of ‘business as usual’ in these extraordinary times.
The crisis has also brought into sharp focus the opportunity for digital solutions to get help to where it’s needed most – the most vulnerable people in our communities. Keeping people safe, as well as physically and mentally well during the coronavirus pandemic, is the highest priority for public health.
One of the powers of digital is that solutions can be swiftly identified and developed to meet changing needs in health and social care and to respond to urgent situations and we have just launched a platform in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Covid-19 Welfare Platform enables requests for support for the most vulnerable to be registered and it also has a volunteer registration page. Health and social care professionals are matching the volunteers to the requests for support via the Platform. We developed and launched this new online service within a week.
The Government announced its vision for digital healthcare technology in October 2018 but it feels like 2020 is the year it comes of age. The vision highlighted the need for a more joined up health and social care system, access to real time data, and systems which can talk to one another.
Digital technology today is giving health and care providers, including local authorities, strategic transformation partnerships and clinical commissioning groups, the endless possibilities of this joined up approach.
New healthy lifestyle websites, with social prescribing being an integral part, are providing an efficient, cost effective gateway for services which put patients more in control of their health and wellbeing.
For providers working together to manage and refer patients effectively across the system, digital is giving them interoperability for seamless patient management. They also have access to rich data which helps them accurately measure and report patient outcomes and therefore better plan future provision.
Importantly, these new platforms are reducing the pressures on overstretched GP Practices and NHS hospitals because the focus is on prevention, putting people at the heart of their health and wellbeing.
Giving people access to services online where they can self-refer and connect with services, whether it’s volunteering or accessing support when socially isolated, smoking cessation, weight management or to book education courses for conditions like diabetes, has enormous potential for patient-led integration of health and social care.
Alison Meadows, Joint Chief Executive of Priority Digital Health