We look at the established management processes in Uk hospitals, and ask – are they no longer fit for purpose? And if not – what can be done?

If hospitals are going to continue to be relevant – then from the recent  interviews and discussions we have had – hospital Management need to change their way of dealing with things. This conclusion is sometimes hidden in the general anarchy of most hospitals. And to be fair, there is always going to be frisson among people. So it is difficult to see when the moment arrives, that “something actually has to be done,” in that it can’t be put off any longer.

This article was born out of two things; first, the use of mobile data and mobile computing, that transfers ownership of the medical process from the hospital, to the patient; and second, the absolute need to reduce costs, in a hospital. I am going to answer this back to front.

The “reducing costs” argument simply says “well, we carry on as we are”. This does not work, but it does give the impression of not spending new money. It also panders to the complete lack of accountable decision making in so many UK hospitals. What’s there not to love?

Ironically, the more problematic, is the hospital that at last tries to do something about things, – and employs third party professional advice. This generally produces great Reports which can be signed off by Management, but it also produces recommendations to acquire new IT – which if this is from a framework, will already be out of date; or worse, will require months of Consulting to render useful the Consulting company’s favourite technology. Conventional thinking says that It is in no Consulting companies’ commercial interests, simply to produce a Report. But maybe it is; the role of the Consulting company is about Business Process – not about Clinical IT

The Game Changer is the first point above; the transfer of decision making to the Patient, or “consumer”, – has given rise to a plethora of more Apps, and iPad based processes, that no longer require the bits of flex and late nights trying to cobble together disparate linked systems. The good people of Apple and Google have done it all for us, thanks for asking.

What is more important, is that it is now possible to link costs of processes, with improved patient care.

In theory – this is not a difficult step. The problem, tho – is that Hospitals need to take that step, and engage in a completely new set of discussions, where there are no rules, and adopt flexible practices that need not be set in stone. It has to be this way, because patient lifestyles are changing with ever increasing frequency.

We see increasingly large numbers of ordinary people voting with their feet, so to say, and paying money that many cannot afford, for routine services now offered by the private sector. We also see increases in regional populations and increased demand from elderly people, that can be better managed remotely. In that case, it is entirely conceivable that we will obtain our healthcare from anywhere in the world. Who needs our hospitals anyway?

This would be a pity. Clinical excellence depends on excellence at all levels of the management process. UK Hospitals have been amongst the best in the world. It is entirely possible for them to remain so.