How do we make essential steps forward in the West?
The debate centred on recent developments in healthcare and the impact on forward planning. What we heard really highlighted the conflict between the potential opportunities through use of technology and data on one side and the constraints of existing systems and coordination on the other. “What is certain is that a combination of factors are driving a need for rapid change in healthcare: increased patient expectations, changing demographics and a significant funding gap mean that we need to look at how services are delivered differently” said Heather Ancient, PwC Partner, in her introduction.
Our recent patient polling pointed to some key priorities for the population as a whole with respect to the healthcare services received and delivered an overwhelming message that this should be the focus of leaders, rather than ‘balancing the books’. There was some support for increasing funding for the NHS through taxation and national insurance contributions, while at the same time very little recognition of the efficiency savings made. The poll revealed support for some rationing of service delivery but primarily retained the principle of being free at the point of use.
If the healthcare system in the South West is going to respond effectively within these expectations, and those of the Department of Health, then our round table of leaders agreed that they must focus their attention on 7 key areas.
Finance and capacity issues are key to understanding the systematic and coordination problems in the NHS - these stifle planning and forward thinking - lifting heads out of these details and engaging in more visionary thinking, while difficult is necessary to truly come up with alternative methods
We must build on and preserve pillars of strength in the NHS; for example, the quality of the existing provision, contribution that voluntary organisations make to the healthcare workforce. The sector needs to pursue areas of efficiency by a focus on what goes well and support for such areas.
Insufficient infrastructure leads to problems which need to be addressed; for example, great apps exist but are let down by IT infrastructure
Determining the right roles for new entrants and private sector actors to play in the healthcare environment can only augment, rather than replace, NHS health provision
There is a need to integrate wellness and healthcare data to be able to deliver value to the patient or citizen. Else, wellness devices become at best ‘fads’ and, at worst, detrimental
Technology presents huge opportunities for NHS improvement of efficiency and must be supported by both infrastructure improvements and adequate and periodic training
This has to be about offering choice in context and in a changing environment where patients are increasing spending on health and wellbeing and increasingly wanting to understand and control their data
Improving infrastructure problems would help solve simple worries of the NHS, e.g. delivering Wi-Fi to facilities