Has COVID been a blessing?

As we slowly – for most of us – move out of Covid restriction -we look at how the forcing of Hospitals to be online may well be the saviour they have still yet to recognise.

Some four years ago, I am sitting with a Clinical Consultant at a major Uk Hospital and he says to me, ‘Richard”, he says: “we can never do patient appointments without the patient being there. The Nurses just won’t stand for it”.

This is an interesting observation. Because, whilst we all have seen instances of reluctant or obstructive IT Teams, or even “Transformation Teams” – and now more likely, Data teams, towards the introduction of new tech driven processes, what we are seeing still, is that these insecurities are supported at a human nature level, and the excuses of choice are related to “unacceptable risk”, or “doesn’t fit our road map” or worse “we already have a policy for this”.

This is a pity, because if there is one benefit from COVID turning our lives upside down, it is that our lives can be much better when we put everything back in order. And there is no reason not to.

Because, what we know now of course, is that the secure tech exists, and has done so for some years, for perfectly capable remote patient discussion – and its advantages of bringing to the party additional protagonists to fit whichever patient we are talking to – are well known. So the question is:

Why did we not think of this before?

Well, we did. And it was not you and I in healthcare, that created or discovered it. It was our phone companies, and our search engines, whose livelihood depended on things being secure, flexible, and above all workable – long before you and I started to relate the same services that we use in our daily lives – to our working lives.

The upshot of all this, is that it now brings into question, why are we persisting with our old ways of doing things, our giant clunky solutions, our old SQL and single-sign on etc processes, when they have already long been superseded by mobile Apps that you and I can download for a few pence, and that require no support, and connect with planet Zog, from the moment we start to install in our front bedroom.

Yet you could say this is a negative. The driver for this unseen revolution, has been the necessity of COVID, to not meet people. Fair enough. I get that.

But now we are there, can we not recognise the promised land that gives us Carte Blanche to absolutely look again at how we run our hospitals, what is new and available right now, to do the same job that used to and still costs us zillions – when we can indeed reach a much better utopia, further, and use our resources much better?

What we have found over the past two years when we talked at all levels throughout Hospitals, is that there is no single Department, or Division, etc where we can point a finger. It is the prejudice of the individual that restricts them from going outside their comfort zone, that it is Ok to go outside their comfort zone – that it is essential to do so.

The problems that we are currently experiencing, of longer waiting lists, of five hour waiting times at E&E, and I could go on – are the result of the inability and unwillingness to prepare for change. Which brings me to my point. We surely do not want to experience another pandemic, to realise that we could have done it all better, so much earlier.