Delivering Better Mental Health Services through IT Innovation – A Five Year View
It’s clear that there are major challenges for Mental Health leadership teams over the next 5 years where they will be asked to deliver more services but not necessarily with bigger budgets. The good news is that there is help in the form of Information Technology (IT) innovations. These innovations can help deliver better mental health services. We carried out this research to find the innovations which we feel will help meet the challenges most effectively.
A good starting point is to understand some of the key challenges for Health leadership teams coming down the line:
NHS Goals & Challenges over the next 5 years:
Tougher targets – The future policy direction is for services to achieve ‘parity of esteem’ with physical health – more demand but the same budgets?
Increasing demand – It is anticipated that service demands will continue to increase, leadership teams will be asked to do more with less.
Reduced capacity – Average target waiting times are expected to increase combined with a decline in the number of NHS mental health nurses working in the system since 2010.
National technology directives – NHS England (2017) has set specific technology goals for trusts to achieve.
As leadership teams think about their goals and plans, they have to consider how the current trends and innovations in IT can help them achieve those goals. Effective technology is about being able ‘to do more with less’.
What is the Current Situation?
Based on publicly available evidence the current electronic health/patient record (EHR/EPR) systems widely used at local services are relatively immature.
The Care Quality Commission (2018) identified ‘poor IT systems’ as one of its main themes. It saw the main issues as clinicians using ‘combinations of systems’, the ‘time taken to enter information’ and ‘inability to retrieve information others had recorded’. CQC also identified widespread experience of ‘incomplete and out of date electronic care plans for patients.
What innovations can help meet the challenges?
We considered ICT developments with the potential to contribute to the NHS goals and challenges previously outlined while recognising the likely budgetary and resourcing challenges it will face. The main ones are:
- ‘personalised services’
- ‘paper free at the point of care’
Information Technology can help
IT can provide smarter, patient-centred, cost effective treatments within and outside the walls of your hospitals and clinics through areas including:
- Electronic Patient Records
- Social Networks
- Patient self-care apps,
- Big Data and Cloud computing.
We looked at all these areas and how they are being used elsewhere or could be used in the UK to meet the challenges in the next five years.
For instance, apps and social media networks can be successfully used to monitor medical conditions and facilitate patient involvement in the treatment process. This smart use of technology goes a long way towards achieving personalisation targets. Looking at how these developments are being used makes for some very interesting reading.
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