CEO & Co-founder, HealthHero
Restrictions on healthcare access as a result of COVID-19 have led to an unprecedented digital transformation within healthcare.
The events of the past 18 months have created a historic tipping point for digital, with more of us turning to digital services than ever before. Healthcare is no exception: digital innovation that may normally have taken years to implement has been delivered for clinical application within weeks, days and in some cases, almost overnight.
HealthHero CEO and Co-Founder, Ranjan Singh argues that as with other sectors, there can be no going back.
The pandemic lent new urgency to challenges that surround patient access to healthcare, inconsistent patient outcomes and a lack of capacity.
Singh says: “For the majority, accessing healthcare is still a one-size-fits-all experience, whether you have flu, need a prescription for a chronic illness, or need support to manage your mental health. At the core of this has always been fundamental, structural issues underpinned by a need to resolve patient experience and outcomes on the one hand, and system inefficiency and capacity on the other.”
COVID-19 has been a powerful catalyst for change, with patients and doctors switching to virtual consultations because of social distancing and clinics closed, but according to Singh, it’s an acceleration of a transformation that was long overdue.
Pre-COVID, digitisation of healthcare was slow, focused on appointment bookings and some video consultations. While this marginally improved the patient experience, it did little to alleviate pressure on the NHS. Later, end-to-end digitisation of the process filtered in, but as Singh remarks, “…that was just digitalising an inefficient, existing process.”
As CEO and Co-Founder of HealthHero, an NHS integrated urgent care provider offering remote access to experienced doctors and expert clinicians for patients, he believes that: “We are at an inflection point: the NHS and policy-makers have a unique opportunity to harness and accelerate further digital innovation in healthcare to radically increase efficiency and improve both the patient and staff experience.”
HealthHero uses artificial intelligence-led medical grade clinical triage tools to guide patients in the right direction. The service is always free at the point of use to the patient, accessed through the NHS 111 pathway, or for private users, via their health insurer and company portals.
Alongside phone or video consultation, HealthHero provides access to a clinician through a variety of channels. This enables physicians to respond in less time or direct the patient to a relevant specialist or treatment pathway.
A class one medical device approved by the MHRA (Medicine and Healthcare Regulatory Agency), HealthHero has also achieved two CQC (Care Quality Commission) outstanding ratings in a row as well as the ISO standard for telemedicine.
“By bringing these channels and tools together into the platform, we marry a better, faster experience for the patient with greater efficiency for the healthcare provider, and the system overall,” says Singh. “And what we’ve seen is that 30-40% of people who use our platform do not need to see a doctor.”
HealthHero is not a replacement for the doctor-patient process. Instead, it’s a smarter step that saves time, increases efficiency and alleviates the burden on the NHS, reducing the need for patients to travel to a clinic.
“Telehealth provides care where people are most comfortable – in their homes,” Singh adds. “Through connected devices, you can do remote monitoring, have constant data access and provide high-quality care.”
COVID created the conditions where this shift became not just desirable but a critical necessity, with, according to Singh, “years of progress made in a few months.” But he also knows how important it is that the transformative momentum of the past year is maintained: “The digital transformation of healthcare has a long journey ahead – our priority is to simplify healthcare for patients and staff, ultimately improving lives.”