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Can technology actually change healthcare?

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Does new technology actually improve public services or is there too much focus on gadgets , innovations and new technologies? PUBLIC's CEO explores.

Does new technology actually improve public services or is there too much focus on gadgets , innovations and new technologies? Should the real focus be on people and processes? Many people, from officials to consultants, are quick to play down the power of new technology. “Panglossian” I’ve heard people say. Or “naive”. “It’s really all about people”, it’s been said. 

But today Eva, PUBLIC’s healthcare subsidiary, has hit 50 live vaccination sites using eVacc, our point-of-care vaccination platform. It has gone from initial launch to serving 50 sites in just a few months. On some days our software is processing 10% of England’s vaccinations. With better, more modern design and intuitive workflow, our pilot site found the system is 20 seconds quicker per jab than the previous software. Extrapolating this saving to all sites, the platform has saved almost 1100 hours of admin time for the NHS in the last month alone. 

The technology is simply so good and so easy to use, compared to the incumbent Pinnacle (which was handed the contract by government in a no-bid tender), that by itself it helps expedite the vaccine roll-out.

From a standing start, driven by passion for better healthcare outcomes and a can-do startup mentality, we have onboarded 2000+ users, are sharing data with 700+ GP practices, and storing 200,000 patient records safely.

Using the software is plug and play. It takes 1 day to launch new sites (once the ‘switch’ is approved by NHS Digital). It is less than 2 hours of set up and training, and less than 5 minutes of training for new vaccinators. All learning materials available on website at any time with video and documentation, and all training is virtual and at times to suit busy NHS administrators and clinicians.

None of that means people, processes and organisations aren’t important. But it’s true to say that great, modern software can in many cases by itself transform a public service much as it has profoundly changed many other sectors.

Great, new, well-built software, however, isn’t just easier for users. It’s often more robust, more secure. That’s certainly the case for our vaccination software. 

  • It was the first software to complete NHSD assurance for the Covid POC features - four months ahead of any other supplier
  • We are the first and only SME and so-called ‘New Market Entrant’, that is a new player in the sector, to complete the NHSD assurance process, five national NHS system integrations, faster than any of the billion-pound competitors.
  • We have experienced 0% downtime in the first 5 months. That’s right - 0. And we have delivered 20 upgrades in that time. 
  • A single instance infrastructure for all sites means single deployment process that takes less than 1 hour from start to finish

We have learnt a lot through these past months, but so can the NHS. The NHS will adopt new technology, even when they are rushed off their feet, when there is a clear improvement in the quality and reliability of that software. It needs to be a rational switching decision, including the hassle of switching in their decision-making process. As Primary Care Networks grow and mature, there are plenty of opportunities for progressive GPs and their teams to innovate in the service design and delivery, and for the tech to support and facilitate these local changes to deliver better, faster NHS care. 

Central NHS authorities can also learn from this experience when thinking about the future of digitally-enabled care - and a thriving UK healthtech market. Creating an opportunity to help deliver national programmes through open and fair competition can deliver better technology into the hands of clinicians. Levelling the playing field with entrenched, legacy incumbent suppliers is a vital role that commissioners should play if they want to stimulate a healthy, dynamic market. Creating national data processing systems, to overcome interoperability barriers, is also a critical role for NHS authorities who are uniquely placed to facilitate safe data sharing for the benefit of patients and the operational flexibility of local NHS organisations. 

I am extremely proud of our progress to date, knowing we’re providing genuine support to clinicians who are tackling one of the busiest and most vital immunisation seasons in NHS history. And it’s not too late to get involved. The eVacc software remains available for Covid-19 and flu vaccinations and is fully assured. To learn more, please visit our eVacc page.

Author

Daniel Korski
Co-Founder and CEO of PUBLIC

Oct 20, 2021