The NHS Long Term Plan sets out an exciting digital future for the health service. It’s bold on vision but, perhaps, a little less clear on how practices can go about delivering this ‘connected future’. To help practices the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has developed a new web resource which provides information on how tech can improve access and quality of care
When the CQC inspects and monitors health and social care services it asks five questions; every practice is graded according to how safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led it is. The Long Term Plan talks about technology as an enabler but, for some practices, it’s less than clear how and what technology should be used.
To fill this gap, the CQC has created a series of examples that illustrate how technology can support good and outstanding person-centred care – and contribute to a better CQC rating. They have used the five dimensions of care to demonstrate the impact technology can have.
Helping ensure key information is accurate and easy to share with caring professionals in real time. Electronic medication management (eMar) systems can:
- help staff to record the medicines given to people in their care
- minimise mistakes or incomplete records.
Using this technology staff can access digital care plans and records more easily and they can record information in real time. This can be quickly and accurately shared to help keep people safe, and highlight key information, such as up-to-date medical and allergy information.
Technology can help in supporting effective communication and facilitate the more efficient use of resources, including finances.
Connected care records allow staff, family and other providers to share digital records more easily and quickly. In some clinical settings, staff can use handheld devices to record the support given as it happens. In primary care, the use of apps is increasing, giving patients the opportunity to better monitor and manage their own healthcare.
Telemonitoring devices can help people to manage their own health conditions; their care provider can use the information recorded to spot early signs of changes in their condition.
Technology can support staff to make their processes more efficient which means that less of their time is taken up by administrative work. It can support the delivery of person-centred care that helps staff to spend more time on the things that really matter
Digital care records can make information easier to access and quicker to share. This reduces the number of times people who use services have to give information, or repeat themselves.
Looking at in-patient settings, audio sensors in a bedroom, for example, can pick up sounds that suggest someone is in discomfort or distress during the night. The system is flexible, and can meet a person’s needs and choices, and can be switched on and off as required. Rather than carrying out routine checks, staff are alerted if they need to respond; this means they do not need to disturb people unnecessarily, but they can detect developing risks between checks.
Responsive to people’s needs
Technology is supporting providers to be more proactive and responsive to changing needs by helping to identify developing risks or needs more quickly.
Communication aids (such as tablet-based apps) can be tailored to an individual’s needs, preferences and activities; for example, they can be regularly updated with words and expressions that are important to the person using them. Voice recognition software can help to make adjustments for sensory disabilities and a computer-based app can be used to deliver tailor-made treatment/recovery plans for people – for example, exercises which a patient can do at home to help rehabilitation.
Movement sensors show changes in a person’s activity during the day or night; they alert providers to the early signs of changes in need and can provide a better balance between support and intrusion for patients. People know the help is there if they need it, rather than by set routines.
New approaches to care are supporting more effective quality assurance through enhanced communication and information-sharing and improved data analysis.
People who use services, and their families, can use online platforms to access, and contribute to, the information that is important to them; they can also communicate with those involved in their care and treatment.
Anonymised data collected can be shared, compared and analysed to identify risks and themes, providing a bigger picture.
The information here is a brief outline of how technology can improve the patient experience. Over the coming weeks we will be exploring new resources in more detail, pulling out what you – and your practice – need to know.
You can view the CQC technology website at: https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/all-services/how-technology-can-support-high-quality-care