The use of digital technology to transform the delivery of NHS services is one of the key trends to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. However, the endless narrative of the ‘new normal’ is misleading; what the global pandemic has really done is accelerate pre-existing trends that were already beginning to reshape the sector.
The use of technology as part of the NHS’ future service delivery and digital transformation are among the key priorities identified in the NHS Long Term plan.(1) Organisations like NHSX and NHS Digital have been charged with spearheading digital and technology-based change across the health service. It’s clear that this is a key priority area for the health service that healthcare companies will need to tap into to expand their business and access new markets.
The COVID-19 crisis saw the health service embrace digital technology as part of its everyday service delivery at an unprecedented scale. Whether it’s online GP consultations, healthcare apps to remotely monitor long-term health conditions, or online triage systems for referrals which allow our health service responded with remarkable speed. (2)
These developments shouldn’t be viewed as a mere digital stopgap until things get back to normal, these innovations are very much here to stay. It’s important to remember that the digital transformation agenda isn’t about short term adaptations in response to a public health crisis, it is an issue of longer-term structural change.
This includes work to improve the interconnected nature of the NHS digital IT systems to speed up diagnosis, improve the planning of services and deliver better patient outcomes. While there has been a lot of coverage in the press about how technology can be used to improve patient engagement and ensure continuity of service delivery during the COVID-19 disruption, its role in improving patient treatment is often overlooked.
As things stand, it seems that we’re going to be living with coronavirus for some time until a vaccine is developed. This means the technology-based response will also have a role to play in patient treatment. There is a clear link between the virus and blood clotting in the lungs that causes restrictions to oxygen and blood flow.(3) This isn’t just an issue during the initial infection period, it is also prevalent long-term in COVID-19 patients during their recovery.(4)
This means that COVID-19 patients will often receive blood thinning anticoagulants, such as warfarin to prevent clotting issues.(3) A crucial component of the success of this treatment is having effective warfarin monitoring in place to ensure that the patient is responding to the dosage effectively and to make appropriate adjustments.
Haemostasis medical devices like Thrombi-Stat can provide a solution-orientated approach to measuring the International Normalised Ratio (INR) from a capillary whole blood sample for COVID patients. Thrombi-Stat works by analysing samples of capillary whole blood, citrated whole blood, and plasma, enabling the system to be used for INR capillary measurements with outpatients, for in-clinic testing in line with laboratory standards.
This can improve patient delivery in a number of ways: it delivers rapid results in under 2 minutes for single sample tests with analysis providing near-patient INR testing with dosing calculations at just a touch of a button. It also delivers quality results at a quick speed, backed by the NEQAS quality assurance scheme, which is among the highest standards in the industry. This is particularly important at a time when staff are under increasing time pressures due to resources being overstretched.
This has the potential to deliver cost savings of up to 90% compared to other methods. Because it uses a wet chemistry testing method, Thrombi-Stat tests cost just £0.30 per test, compared to £3+ for dry strip testing alternatives.
At a time when the NHS is facing unprecedented challenges, having the right haemostasis testing in place can help the health service adjust to living with COVID-19.