Managing Director, Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network
Technology has been instrumental in healthcare’s COVID-19 response by helping support patients and the NHS workforce.
Before COVID-19, pressures in healthcare services meant technology innovations contributed to managing increasing demand and workforce shortages. The pandemic emphasised this need as services have changed at pace to respond to growing demand with greater workforce shortages.
The ASHN Network – the innovation arm of the NHS and collective voice of the 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) across England – responded to these challenges by collaborating with industry and healthcare partners to quickly facilitate spread and adoption of tech innovation.
Discharging patients quickly and effectively
A number of the AHSN Network’s pre-existing innovation adoption programmes supported the healthcare COVID-19 response.
For example, our national programme ‘Transfer of Care Around Medicines’ (T-CAM), supports safe discharge from hospital. The initiative uses a safe and secure digital platform to establish electronic interfaces between hospital IT and community pharmacy systems, enabling community pharmacists to provide support to patients who need extra help taking their prescribed medicines.
AHSN’s expertise in supporting technology adoption meant they were well placed to support local healthcare services to accelerate roll-out and uptake of online patient triage by GP Practices and remote consultations during the first wave of the pandemic.
Remote monitoring supports social distancing in healthcare by reducing face-to-face appointments, reserving them for when they’re needed most.
Assisting frontline support
As the second wave of the virus emerged, we built on this knowledge, and NHS connections to further support frontline services with spread and adoption of technology.
AHSNs across England are currently supporting the roll-out of remote patient monitoring using in-home oximetry devices. Patients with COVID-19 can experience dangerously low blood-oxygen levels without the patient noticing, known as “silent hypoxia”.
The ‘COVID Oximetry at Home’ initiative supports citizens with confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 and can spot critical signs of deterioration early. It enables them to report deterioration from their homes and care homes.
Remote monitoring supports social distancing in healthcare by reducing face-to-face appointments, reserving them for when they’re needed most and can provide stepdown services for patients discharged from hospital.
Technology in a post-pandemic world
COVID-19 has encouraged us all to embrace new technologies. Remote monitoring is likely to become a healthcare mainstay in a post-pandemic world, as the healthcare sector adapts in order to deliver high-quality care to a growing and ageing population.