Professor Sultan Mahmud
Director of Healthcare, BT
Dr Mateen Jiwani
GP, Executive Medical Director and Principal Clinical Consultant, BT
Digital transformation within the NHS can help make care delivery more efficient and free up clinician time to focus on core care.
The NHS does an incredible job protecting us but is facing its biggest challenges of a generation, with staff shortages, the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and now — increased winter demands. Patients continue to deal with long waiting lists to receive necessary treatments and procedures. Technology alone cannot solve all these problems, but it can help to address them. As a long-term partner of the NHS, BT is investing in digital breakthroughs to help support healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients.
Clinicians addressing pressures
Dr Mateen Jiwani, an active NHS clinician, experienced Medical Director and BT Clinical Board member, stresses that new technologies must have relevance on the frontline. Services are struggling every day.
He says: “Winter pressures have always been present but are now amplified post-Covid-19 with respiratory illnesses amongst the backlog; more patients needing monitored care in communities or hospitals; and the continued delay of routine care.” Digitally enabled healthcare can benefit clinicians but is only effective if it demonstrates an understanding of the challenges they face.
BT is addressing this issue by co-creating digital healthcare solutions with the NHS and its Clinical Advisory Board. “It has the right mix of experienced people in place who understand what is going on in the frontline,” says Jiwani. It brings together people with an understanding of healthcare systems who can identify whether digital healthcare solutions will work in NHS clinical settings.
You can have wonderful tools, but if they are not connected by the best possible infrastructure and aggregators, you are not going to get very far.Professor Sultan Mahmud
Collaboration at the forefront
The company values true collaboration and innovation by deeply understanding customers and the people they work with. Their partnerships aim to support the healthcare ecosystem with a clinically-led, digitally-enabled approach. They drive this with their knowledge, expertise and technology to help with the ongoing NHS pressures through various programmes and initiatives.
The newly established Vanguard Innovation Programme identifies the NHS’s challenges first, then explores how HCPs and digital partners can co-create innovative solutions together. Professor Sultan Mahmud, the company’s Director of Healthcare, explains that one part of this is the virtual ward initiative where patients are remotely monitored at home, away from hospital or GP settings so that patients who require full hospital care can get it quickly. With the right training and adoption, this can support some of the busiest departments.
The Health Innovation Hub at Adastral Park, Suffolk is a world-class R&D collaboration space for organisations across the health and social care ecosystem to co-create solutions with technology partners and academia. They test and assess those potential solutions with the frontline to ensure that they meet the healthcare challenges of tomorrow.
Equally important is the visualisation of data and ensuring that clinicians get the best medical insight to make more informed, safer decisions. Professor Mahmud, who has 25 years of NHS experience in executive roles in primary, secondary and community care, underlines the need for collaboration and co-creation with digital solutions.
“Digital is not a panacea, but it’s a big enabler,” he says. It’s not there to replace HCPs but to support them and ensure patients’ needs are met. “The most important thing around digital innovation is that it lands neatly in the clinician’s workflow, makes the right things easier to do and releases time for care. That’s why we have a clinical board to assess what works in real life.” With NHS personnel shortages, he believes digital innovations provide support for clinicians and patients and improve staff retention.
Mahmud adds: “You can have wonderful tools, but if they are not connected by the best possible infrastructure and aggregators, you are not going to get very far.”
The NHS deserves to join forces and do more with partners who are willing to listen. They can take the lead and show digital innovators how to best serve the population. Ultimately, without true collaboration, digital transformation in the NHS will struggle to reach its full potential.