Tackle the patient backlog with the help of an integrated eAssurance system.

How can Trusts rely on technology when all it does is slow them down? There might be a better way…

Tackle the patient backlog with the help of an integrated eAssurance system.

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The Covid-19 pandemic put a never-before-seen strain on healthcare providers that they will be recovering from for the foreseeable future. The usual 1M annual users of the NHS avoided the service during the pandemic to prevent further strain on the service, avoid catching the virus or have had their consultations pushed back to accommodate the number of Covid patients that had taken precedent.

Now, these patients flock to the NHS in their millions, leaving staff to face a backlog of patients who have been waiting up to two years. These patients are becoming increasingly frustrated, sometimes taking out their disappointments on NHS staff. Also, the mental health crisis front-line staff face is only increased by the vast workload, patient dissatisfaction and pressure to deliver on pandemic recovery in an unrealistic timeframe without proper resources.

On top of this, staff must battle with outdated, unfit-for-purpose systems to manage their day-to-day responsibilities, like audits, action management, incident reporting, quality assurance and more. As a result, these tasks take up valuable and scarce clinical time and money.

To help staff regain control of their time and properly manage the influx of patients, healthcare services must be able to depend on robust, reliable, and easy-to-use technology that supports staff daily - and doesn’t slow them down. Systems must be able to handle a large flow of data and have quick and easy data capture forms to save staff time when filling out the many required forms each day. In addition, it must automatically collate relevant data, so staff don’t have to pull information from different systems and folders manually.

What more patients means for staff

The incoming number of patients means that healthcare services haven’t had enough time to take a beat between discharging Covid patients and welcoming the new patients waiting over two years to be seen.

More patients mean a significant financial impact with increased medicinal orders, equipment and PPE, more staff hours, and outsourcing to temporary workers. This will put a strain on already tight funding.

Meanwhile, the NHS has declared a nursing ‘staffing crisis’, with 110,000 nursing positions left unfilled, leading Trusts to wonder how they will cope with the patient backlog. More patients mean more staff hours are needed, whether that’s extra hours performed by current staff or recruiting more, leaving the current workload in this interim period on the shoulders of already overstretched and overworked staff members or gaining efficiency with time-saving technology.

To manage the increased patient number and provide the highest quality of patient care, staff must complete audits and incident reports to ensure quality compliance across the Trust and thoroughly report adverse events for more insight and foresight into prevention. Any policy updates or updates to a Trust’s key quality indicators will require time to create, deploy and adapt to, taking away from other crucial tasks and letting less than required standards operate in the meantime.

Digital systems must be a sturdy base upon which staff can depend. However, that isn’t always the case.

The digital problem

The pandemic revealed cracks in the system that previously went unnoticed and can no longer cope with the requirements of post-Covid recovery and the patient backlog. The current ways of managing tasks on Excel, Word documents, outdated digital systems or even pen and paper will be unable to keep up with the workload.

To improve the quality of these tasks, and reduce the time spent on them, healthcare providers must re-examine their digital management systems and consider one single digital system – or ‘eAssurance’ system’ – that triangulates all areas of performance, quality and assurance reporting for healthcare providers and increase the staff time spent with patients to reduce the backlog.

What is an eAssurance system

As the name implies, an eAssurance system is a digital management system that provides robust and reliable assurance from ward to board using audit and incident data alongside crucial quality assessments and indicators to ensure the consistent standards of patient care.

An eAssurance system combines the essential Audit, Quality and Incident elements of a successful digital management system to support your Trust’s commitment to quality and improvement.

How can an eAssurance system help tackle the patient backlog?

An eAssurance system can help healthcare providers tackle the patient backlog in several ways. As we know, Trusts are facing the uphill battle of post-pandemic recovery and a record-breaking patient waiting list.

To help them, they have outdated, unfit-for-purpose digital or manual systems to help quality compliance, audit conduction and incident reporting that take up valuable time to use and are spread across multiple systems that require manual updates, analysis and data collation.

With a robust eAssurance system, Trusts can save time, take the worry out of losing track of getting things done, avoid duplication, eliminate continuous double-checking of a task’s status, and keep actions aligned to relevant quality standards.

Combined, these elements will create more staff time for patients as well as help to improve the quality of care given, so staff can avoid anything that increases a patient’s length of stay and trust the care they give aligns with the Trust’s quality standards.

Save time with fast forms

Audit data capture and incident reporting sometimes require extensive form-filling from staff to collect the appropriate data. The strength of this data set is crucial, as it will be analysed to measure current quality standards and gain better insight to prevent further adverse events.

‘Fast Forms’ only display questions relevant to previous answers, so staff can eliminate “N/A” answers in irrelevant fields and only answer the right questions. Hierarchical sub-questions only show appropriate options, a ‘required only’ option enables on the spot minimal capture which can be added to later, and modern high speed cloud servers and fast browser coding ensure minutes are trimmed off formfilling every time. these can reduce a medium complexity event reporting from 18-20 minutes to 9-10 minutes.

With between 2 and 3 million incident reports expected by NHS England in the next 12 months, saving 9 minutes on average per incident would save from 181 to 272 fulltime clinical staff time if adopted nationally, or 1-4 FTE per hospital.

This improved speed improves the data set’s quality as well as saves that all-important time. As well as this, the Oversight eAssurance system supports automatic uploading to the national LFPSE (Learn from Patient Safety Events), so data can be analysed immediately across the country and acted upon.

By quickening the audit completion process and incident reporting, valuable staff time is freed up to tend to patients and decrease the length of their stay as they don’t have to wait for administration tasks to get completed before they’re seen, making way for more patients. In addition, speeding form filing up increases the willingness to conduct audits and report incidents, as staff know it won’t take long. This, in turn, will improve the quality of patient care and inspire learning and improvement.

With less time spent form-filling, staff can refocus their attention on caring for and treating patients, meaning patient care will be quicker, more effective and more efficient, as well as being high quality in alignment with key quality measures. Therefore, staff can see more patients and decrease the patient backlog.

Get what needs to be done, done

The eAssurance system will provide staff members with individual dashboards, visually showing their actions and impacts. Everyone knows what key improvement actions they need to do and when by, as well as what it affects. All information is in one place, meaning staff can see all of their change actions without trawling through emails, notes, or multiple systems.

What staff need to know is immediately in front of them so they can begin straight away with no delays. This helps keep staff motivated and on track and assures the rest of the team that things are being completed as and when they should. As well as this, an eAssurance system avoids duplication so staff won’t be wasting time on unnecessary tasks.

Commit to quality with a digital assurance framework

A digital assurance framework helps keep everyone’s actions aligned with CQC self-assessments, NICE Guidance and the Trust’s improvement goals to ensure the most valuable actions are being undertaken.

With the right system, staff at all levels oversee quality, with a precise analysis of performance across the board, identifying areas of improvement.

Collaboration and communication are essential to quality. Therefore an effective eAssurance system must provide a place where staff can comment on individual actions, update on progress and assure their completion. This makes it easy for staff to check the stage of specific tasks, so everyone is up to date.

This inspires a commitment to quality improvement, instead of compliance alone, so that staff can provide the best possible patient care. The best patient care decreases the length of stay for a patient, allowing staff to move through the patient backlog with minimal bumps in the road along the way.

InPhase Oversight – An integrated eAssurance system

Luckily, a fast, triangulated eAssurance system is more than just an idea. Oversight from InPhase combines all the elements of a successful integrated eAssurance system, so Trusts have one place, one system and one truth to keep their patient care quality, assurance and improvement on track with everything quick, easy and streamlined. Oversight consists of Audit Oversight, Incident Oversight and Quality Oversight, fully triangulated.

Find fast forms in Audit Oversight and Incident Oversight, saving clinical time (and money) at the data collection stage. Enjoy automatic uploading with the NHS England LFPSE certification for Incident Oversight – now required to be fully implemented for all healthcare providers by March 31st, 2023. Put quality control in everyone’s hands with Quality Oversight, complete with dashboards, Teams collaboration and effortless communication.

The Takeaway

Trusts deserve to be able to rely on their digital systems more to help decrease the patient waitlist more effectively and efficiently and maintain the proper standard of care. It’s essential to have a system that eliminates manual data collection, collation and reporting and ensures quality across the Trust.

A single, integrated Oversight system will help staff tackle the patient backlog by making necessary, time-consuming tasks quick, simple and thorough with fast forms, automation and quality measurement, as well as eliminating duplicated tasks and endless double-checking by providing the assurance staff require.

Staff need to see the impact of their actions to remain motivated. Oversight from InPhase automatically collates data relevant to each staff member in their dashboards keeps things straightforward, aligned and focused.

Implementing and using Oversight from InPhase is incredibly easy. With out-of-the-box, ready-to-go apps. You can see results in weeks instead of months, meaning healthcare professionals can focus more on supporting patients in their time of need. Data collection, reporting and analysis become more streamlined, and management can provide complete assurance of quality from ward to board.

Oversight created a a robust, reliable eAssurance system that can save clinical time and money, provide better precise data analysis and solid assurance from ward to board that ultimately drives continuous improvement in efficiency, patient safety and care quality, supports staff and increases patient time with patients. Staff at all levels can see the effects of their actions and redirect their time to reduce the patient backlog.

Don’t wait too long – schedule your time to talk today.

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About the Author

Robert Hobbs

Robert Hobbs

As our Chief Executive and Founder, Robert has been the visionary leading InPhase to be one of the UK's leading providers of business management, governance and assurance solutions, and helping organisations align their actions and goals more easily and efficiently with InPhase's suite of integrated apps.

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