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Nuance practice business survey the impact of the digital patient on general practice


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Technology has transformed the world that we live in and how we behave in it; impacting the ways that we engage with others and with the services we use, altering our expectations and our experiences. We have all become ‘digital citizens’ and the impact is felt across all sectors – including healthcare.

With the NHS under pressure – burdened by increased demand on limited resources, emerging needs and growing workloads – efficient solutions are needed. In an increasingly digitalised world, technology is being championed as the answer, as reflected in NHS England’s now launched 24-hour service for NHS patients, which offers GP consultations via videolink on smartphones.

We have partnered with Practice Business to investigate how the digital patient is modifying care delivery processes and administration, what technology you are introducing and implementing at your practice and how – both positively and negatively – the digital patient is affecting your workload and that of your practice.

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Nuance practice business survey the impact of the digital patient on general practice

  1. 1. GENERAL PRACTICE and the DIGITAL PATIENT A report by...
  2. 2. What impact the digital patient is having on paperwork workload? 48.8% “Less” 33% “No difference” 18.2% “More” CARE DELIVERY PROCESSES What was interesting to see was the number of practices already offering patients digital care delivery processes such as remote consultations via video conferencing (15.9%), remote patient monitoring and management (21.6%), personal health apps and wearables (13.6%) and online information (75%). This suggests a move towards empowering the patient – supporting continued care outside of the consulting room – and reflects a sector-wide movement towards patient-centred care. When asked what digital processes they planned to introduce in the coming months these four key tools were, again, the focus with 25% saying that they were looking to introduce remote consultations via video conferencing, 15.9% reporting remote patient monitoring and management, 17% planning to use personal health apps and wearables and 29.5% intending to add online information for patients. A surprising 40.9% said they had no plans to introduce digital processes. IMPACT ON PRACTICE TEAMS We asked, ‘How do you think that digital transformation impacts the general workload of a practice?’ Interestingly, 37.5% of respondents agreed that it has had a positive effect on the general workload – telling us that it has lessened their workload. However, 36.4% said that it has increased their workload. The remainder – 26.1% - reported that they had seen no difference. When read in conjunction with the reported impact on paperwork workload – where nearly 50% of respondents said that there was a reduction – it must be asked why technology meeting a specific requirement is felt to result in efficiencies while, thinking more generally, the benefits appear to be less evident. Personalisation (37.5%), convenience (84.1%), choice (56.8%) and control (51.1%) were revealed to be the key benefits of digital technology in practices – for practice staff and patients alike. However, with opportunities come challenges and, while both the practice team and patients benefit from the introduction of these new technologies, they do bring additional considerations. When asked which aspects of practice processes now need to be considered more carefully data protection, privacy and medico- legal aspects of the patient record topped the list. “Medico-legal aspects of the patient record need to be considered and complete, accurate, up-to-date notes are needed to support this. Practices need to be looking at solutions to ensure that they can easily and quickly record things – using speech recognition is one effective way of doing this,” Nuance advises. THE FUTURE What does the future hold? The NHS are advancing the digital cause – with funding promised in the General Practice Forward View – and so, too, are practices by making investments in the technology that will help them to deliver more efficient services and better health outcomes – two key steps towards lightening the load. Our survey showed that technology is part of the plan for most practices. Point of care testing, biometrics to correctly identify patients and ensure data privacy and protection, chatbots/digital assistants as well as AI to support GPs and other healthcare providers were some of the great technologies which respondents said they could imagine introducing over the coming years.   “This is an exciting area for us at Nuance as we do a lot of research and development on AI and, indeed, speech recognition is a sophisticated technology that also uses deep machine learning. For us, it’s about investing in the future – looking at how we can ensure that practices have the tools they need to care for their patients,” Nuance says.   THE DIGITAL PATIENT So, what of our digital patient for whom healthcare is evolving and adapting? Of our respondents, 44.3% said that the emergence of the digital patient will result in faster, more efficient services. 26.1% said that they expect to see fewer missed appointments and 11.4% believe that the digital patient will mean less paperwork. “Technology is putting the patient at the centre of care by removing the burden of administration so that practice teams can focus on their patients,” Nuance says. Is this move to the digital a step in the right direction? It is certainly being viewed as a key solution in a healthcare system that is overwrought and which needs a new answer that can cater to the needs of a growing population with more complex healthcare needs many of whom, increasingly, want everything in the palm of their hand – including their healthcare. What are the key benefits of the digital transformation? convenience 84.1% Personalisation 37.5% control 51.1% choice 56.8% The health sector is undergoing a digital transformation; technology is evolving and being adopted to cater to the needs of digitally savvy patients. We at Practice Business teamed up with speech recognition specialists Nuance to better understand how this digital health revolution is impacting general practice T echnology has changed the way that we engage with every aspect of our lives, including our health. People are more interested in using digital tools to manage their health and wellbeing and the NHS is responding to this behaviour by expanding and enhancing its digital offering and rolling out online healthcare information services – for example, online appointment booking and access to their patient record in addition to online consultations and the use of apps and health monitoring devices. Much of this patient-facing technology has been deployed in general practice and community settings – but to what effect? What have practices put in place in terms of technology to date and what plans are in the pipeline to accommodate the needs and expectations of the ‘digital patient’? We linked up with Nuance to conduct a survey among our readers looking at what technology has been introduced in their practices and what effect it is having on processes and workload. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSES Where practice teams are under pressure, technology can save time. Looking at more efficient ways of doing things is a sure way of achieving this – for example using speech recognition solutions can save GPs and practice teams time, reduce back-office admin and costs and improve the patient experience – because GPs focus on the patient rather than typing. “It can also free-up headspace for the practice team to think about doing things differently and how to deliver these new digital services and improve patient access and outcomes,” says a Nuance spokesperson. Our survey sought to find out what administration tools practices actually have in place to help meet the needs of the digital patient. We were not surprised to learn that nearly all were offering the standard level of digital access for patients – including online appointment booking, repeat prescriptions and access to patient records. But do these tools benefit the practice and practice staff? Respondents confirmed that there is an upside to the digitisation of administrative processes as a result of online patient access to services and information. When asked what impact the digital patient is having on paperwork workload, 48.8% said that it has been reduced. However, 33% said that they had experienced no difference and 18.2% told us that they had experienced an increase in workload. Healthcare is undergoing a digital transformation – what’s the impact on general practice?
  3. 3. We at Practice Business teamed up with speech recognition specialists Nuance to better understand how this digital health revolution is impacting general practice The digital patient: one who is at ease with digital technology Administration processes Care delivery processes What is currently being offered? What will you use more of? Video conferencing Video conferencing 15.9% 25% Remote patient monitoring and management Remote patient monitoring and management 21.6% 15.9% Personal health apps and wearables Personal health apps and wearables 13.6% 17% What does the future hold? Impacts of the digital transformation on the practice team What impact the digital patient is having on paperwork workload? 48.8% “Less” Point of care testing 36.4% “Increased workload” 33% “No difference” 37.5% “Lessened workload” 18.2% “More” 26.1% “No change” The digital impact on general practice What are the key benefits? convenience 84.1% Personalisation 37.5% control 51.1% choice 56.8% Biometrics Chatbots/digital assistants & AI Online information Online information NOTHING 75% 29.5% 40.9% faster more efficient services 44.3% fewer missed appointments 26.1% less paperwork 11.4%
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