In our Digital World – have we lost sight of the Patient?

EIDO Healthcare is the UK’s market leading provider of informed consent services in healthcare, with a 20-year pedigree. At a time when everything digital is seemingly blessed with gold dust, we ask Phil Evans, EIDO’s Director of Partnerships, where he sees the future of the consent process within the digital landscape.

They say that what goes around comes around. I am sitting at my iPad and the good people at Apple tell me that – wonderful news! – I can now do “mail merge” into something called “letters”, print them out and send personalised documents in something called “the post” – to individual people.

This is indeed exciting news. Originally this was a standard feature some 10 years ago, in Apple Pages version ’08. They then removed it and, after everybody complained, put it back into Apple Pages version something else, many years later. Progress is a wonderful thing.

Which raises a question. EIDO made its name by producing hard copy surgical information for patients, to support shared decision making prior to surgery. At the time of the upcoming HETT Show 2022, and now that EIDO’s widespread content is also available digitally, is it “job done” as far as digital consent is concerned?

Phil takes a second and then looks at me across the screen. We are chatting on Zoom. He is wearing a simple grey T-shirt, and has a serious expression.

“Absolutely not”, he says.

“True, we live in a digital mobile world, and we have become accustomed to immediate access to information. And the EIDO model fits nicely into this. But the “delivery” of content is only one part of the informed consent puzzle. More important is how that content has been tailored to the individual needs of the patient in question, as well as being able to evidence a patient’s engagement with it.”

“We strongly believe”, continues Phil, “that consent is a culture. So EIDO’s role is not just to supply tools that take a paper process and turn it into a digital box-ticking exercise. It’s our responsibility to perpetuate a good consent culture. Because ultimately, it’s not about the technology; it’s about the people using it, and their desire to genuinely improve what has historically been a deficient process. If we can introduce clinical time-saving and resource- saving efficiencies into it (and we believe our software can), then that’s a welcome by- product.”

“The question organisations need to be asking is not simply ‘Who can do this digitally?’ but ‘Who can do it best?’.

The conversation turns to the “how” of EIDO’s proposition…

“What makes EIDO attractive as a solution is our ability to meet a hospital wherever it may be on its digital transformation journey. Is it looking to deliver content digitally but continue taking consent on paper? We can support that. Is it looking for a full digital consent service with no more paper in sight? We can support that too, and everything in between.”

“In addition, what stands us apart is our partner strategy, where we link seamlessly to other solution vendors that are also specialist in their own areas of expertise. In that way, we are being much more focussed on giving the patient and the hospital the exact consent process that it wants to have. This can be a mix of many styles of delivery and can include a variety of data sources.”

We take a pause and start to look to the future. The topic of Net Zero comes up, and how the shared decision-making process needs to adapt to align with strategic NHS targets. Digital consent pathways can play a significant part in reducing the carbon footprint of the NHS, not only through the elimination of paper, but also in the potential reduction of unnecessary patient visits to hospital.

Phil continues “We will be at the HETT Show at ExCel London this September, on Stand C48, where we are inviting individual Trusts and partners to meet us and discuss the consent-related pain points they are trying to address. Defining the problem is important – it allows us to understand what is important to an organisation, and present a tailored solution to them.”

It’s a good place to end our chat. I switch into my Mac apps and print my Notes. I click on Send – and a copy zaps across to Phil.