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A new focus on patient-centricity through remote healthcare

By Diana Evans

Patient-centricity is a phrase that has been used widely but somewhat intangibly for many years. In-fact, when I worked for a patient organisation, I remember sitting in an NHS policy meeting that talked about nothing else for the best part of eight hours and yet it still felt like an elusive term. So here we are in what I will optimistically call a ‘post-pandemic’ world and the tangible examples are suddenly all around us – necessitated by a health system diverted to crisis mode and bounced into new ‘remote’ healthcare offerings for patients.

All of us have seen the most obvious efficiencies enabled. I was suddenly offered my blood test results by email to deter me from coming into the surgery. Our GP offered telephone consultations which, as a working parent with three children, has saved everybody time and energy. A childhood rash was instantly diagnosed by a photograph and the appropriate prescription provided. On a larger scale, clients we work with have had to move with pace and ingenuity to meet patient needs by, for instance, supporting healthcare professionals (HCPs), hospital and homecare providers to deliver ‘at home initiation’ processes for new medicines. Another example is enabling patients to have access to medicines at home during lockdown, that would otherwise have been denied, and ensuring that those patients are set up and empowered to receive further remote care.

The elephant in the room is that these changes were brought about by an accident of pandemic birth, not by a policy of patient-centricity. Arguably these were ‘service-centric’ for a system that had no alternative but to look at remote options where clinically feasible. However, there is an opportunity here to grasp, an open door. From the corridors of Westminster to front-line HCPs – eyes have surely been opened. The opportunities are there to make patient care easier, simpler, more efficient – maybe even cheaper – and ease the burden on NHS workers at the same time. While COVID-19 has taken much away from us, perhaps it has also encouraged us to see patients as people, with preferences, families and logistical considerations just like anyone else. Perhaps the time has come to start talking about ‘people-centricity’ when it comes to healthcare.

Diana Evans is Director and Patient Education and Engagement Lead at Makara Health

in association with

30th September 2021

From: Healthcare

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