As the UK continues to pass through the checkpoints on the roadmap out of lockdown and begins to plan post-Covid recovery, the decline in cases, the incredible work of the NHS, and the Covid vaccine drive, highlight an obvious drawback of the pandemic. With the whole world focused on one goal, other sectors and services within the nation have suffered a decline. Boris Johnson has said the government “won’t settle for going back to the way things were”, as the UK emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. What we consider “winter pressures” are happening now, and the NHS is under considerably more pressure and facing more demand on their services than most of us have seen in our lifetime. When facing winter pressures, planning can be a key issue for the mental health, community and ambulance services provided by the NHS, which is why 365 Response prides itself on supporting the NHS and the wider community every day by fulfilling our mission of “making difficult transport easy.”
How We Can Help with Planning Ahead for Post-Covid Recovery
According to NHS England, 4.95 million people were waiting to receive treatment at the end of March 2021, the highest number on record since August 2007. A recent HSJ article states that on waiting lists there have been “400,000 waiting more than a year.” Current social distancing requirements brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and strict guidelines for infection control have significantly reduced available space and staff within hospitals and GP surgeries, creating a knock-on effect that is rapidly overwhelming the healthcare sector. Hospitals are overstretched, and with their capacity greatly reduced the nation must now navigate the healthcare system using more modern methods.
The Kings Fund, an independent charity organisation dedicated to improving health and care throughout England, believe that if the government truly wishes to provide the high-quality health and care services that the nation deserves, then it will need to prioritise the following in its quest to “level up” society:
- Putting the workforce centre stage
- A step change on inequalities and population health
- Lasting reform for social care
- Embedding and accelerating digital change
- Reshaping the relationship between communities and public services.
The pandemic has highlighted a very specific need to utilise and promptly implement advanced digital tools and software solutions. 365 Response have continued to digitally support a multitude of complex transport requirements within the NHS and healthcare sectors. For example, ensuring staff can swiftly prevent exit blocking by delayed transfers of care, or by transporting patients to other locations to create much-needed bed space across busy wards and A&E departments.
Speeding Up Safe Procurement
Employing a more efficient procurement of in-person services is just one way in which we have helped to alleviate some of the stress on the healthcare system. Our eProcure platform gives access to a procured network of transport and taxi suppliers to support patient flow, adult social care, mental health transfers, GP urgent bookings and hospital discharges. The eProcure digital marketplace has enabled frontline workers to create more breathing room within their departments. By providing immediate complex transport for patients, we actively support healthcare services by providing a more effective process for easily procuring compliant transport services with the use of our award-winning digital technology, which is free for NHS organisations to use, with no set-up costs and no ongoing licence fees.
Post-Covid Recovery with Technology and AI
Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at 365 Response. We were the first to develop a transport app for people requiring renal replacement therapy, the first to create a true digital marketplace for real-time procurement of health and social care transport services and the first to build an end-to-end cloud-based platform for health and social care transport providers. Transport planning and routing problems are amongst the hardest known to solve and optimise, but our award-winning software has already improved the lives of patients, service users, and NHS workers across the UK. Our relentless willingness to improve and a genuine desire to improve the lives of all who utilise our software is the reason why we are dedicated to expanding our services and technology for all. Dr Chris Jones, 365 Response’s Chief Technology Officer, said:
“The whole world is getting more complex, not simpler, and this is reflected in the evolving needs of transport systems in health and care. Providers are struggling to deal with the increased complexity of service user needs, regulatory changes and black swans like Covid-19 that can completely destabilise a system that is built for the status quo. Add to this the environmental impact of health and social care transport emissions on climate change, we recognise the importance of using technology to improve lives and protect the environment.”
Computer Weekly reports that despite the general recognition amongst IT decision-makers that AI has a role to play in supporting organisations through post-Covid recovery, the UK is, unfortunately, lagging behind other countries in adopting and utilising this technology. According to the report:
- A survey of senior UK and European IT chiefs has found that deployments of artificial acceleration (AI) are accelerating.
- The study, based on a survey of 2,500 senior decision-makers from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, found that one-third (36%) reported that their companies had accelerated their roll-out of AI as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, only 27% of UK IT professionals reported that their company had accelerated the roll-out of AI in response to the virus.
- Significantly, 38% of the IT decision-makers from the UK who took part in the survey said their employer had made no change to their adoption of the technology as a response to the global health crisis, compared with a European average of 33%.
As a technology company that prides itself on its boldness, we continue to adapt to new environments and challenges as they emerge. This is one of the reasons why we are investing in our own research and development lab. Dr Chris Jones shared:
“Forecasting and planning needs to be continually improved as the available data and circumstances change, but we also need systems with in-built flexibility to respond to immediate, short- and long-term changes to demand and the world around us. This is why we are committing to R&D in cognitive sciences and practical application of the latest techniques which will keep our systems at the leading edge technically and our customers in the vanguard of service providers.”
The UK government used the Queen’s Speech to set out its ambition to make the country a leader in life sciences and move society forward in a way that ensures we do not return to our pre-pandemic ways. Following the press conference, The PharmaPhorum detailed the governments next steps, which included:
- The continuation of the Covid-19 vaccination rollout
- Extra funding for the NHS
- A Health and Care Bill that promises to “empower the NHS to innovate and embrace technology” with patients set to receive “more tailored and preventative care, closer to home”.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that when put to the test, humans can collaborate in extraordinary ways. We have witnessed the dedication of millions of frontline healthcare staff, volunteers and the rapid progress achieved in creating a vaccine for a virus that spread faster than anyone could have predicted. Many processes that were initially paper based are now digitised to reduce the opportunity for contamination, which in turn has transformed the delivery of services across the world. Together we must trust in the experts, and build on this learning to prepare for the future, promote positive change and renewal across the healthcare system, and ensure that our post-Covid recovery incorporates improvements to the health and wellbeing services available to all. To effectively meet and address this new level of need across the world, we have no choice but to embrace innovation and rethink the way that care systems operate completely.
To embrace innovation and discuss how the 365 Response digital offering can help you “make difficult transport easy,” please contact us at [email protected], or give our friendly team a call today on 0333 2027 365.