Change can happen slowly at the NHS. Large scale transformations are often seen as too costly to pursue, particularly as funding is provided by the public. This means innovations are either delayed or shelved completely, even if the change itself would improve the services that are offered.
Are patients suffering as a result of strict budgeting in healthcare management? In this post, we’ll look at the impact of budgeting and consider the effect that has on patients.
Is Budgeting Getting in the Way of Positive Change?
The issues that the NHS is currently facing are well documented. The UK’s population is both increasing and getting older, healthcare needs are evolving due to the way we live and hospitals need to invest in the latest medical technology. All of this needs to be addressed with a healthcare budget that isn’t rising quickly enough to cope.
In fact, the NHS was tasked with finding £22 billion in savings by 2020 in order to meet rising demand. These severe financial pressures mean that Trusts are understandably reluctant to green-light any projects they feel aren’t essential or are too costly.
This mentality cuts costs but it can get in the way of improvements that will actually have a significant impact on patients across the UK. With such intense pressure placed on Trusts, it’s easy for them to weigh up innovations against something like the costs needed for a team of nurses for a year. In this example, they’ll likely always go with the nurses because it feels like the choice that will cause the least amount of friction.
This is where a disconnect lies. Identifying daily challenges faced by NHS staff isn’t part of anyone’s job description who’s working in a hospital. Clinicians don’t feel like it’s their place to suggest improvements and many of the people who are involved with these decisions aren’t actually on-site. They’re looking at cold hard statistics without considering the genuinely positive impact that innovation might have.
By no means are we suggesting that the NHS isn’t a world-leading organisation that focuses on cutting-edge research and development each year. But there are fundamental issues that sometimes cause bottlenecks when it comes to implementing innovations.
Because there’s such scrutiny on the decisions that the NHS makes, innovators often have to go through lengthy processes to get anything done. This is especially true if the change they’re suggesting isn’t a short-term cash-saving measure.
What they can do is provide extensive evidence that supports the reasoning behind the innovation. Case studies and statistics add weight to any innovation and can convince otherwise reluctant decision-makers.
What Are Trusts Missing Out On?
The cautious mentality adopted by many Trusts is preventing them from enjoying the wide range of benefits that innovations bring. Some of the most frustrating challenges faced by NHS staff can be eased by investing in improvements that will make a real difference.
Take those awkward bedside televisions, for example. When they were first introduced, they were seen as a fantastic innovation that would improve a patient’s experience. They were rated so highly that many Trusts agreed to be tied into lengthy contracts with providers.
These systems were innovative for a while and they were certainly an improvement on what had come before. With hindsight, however, it’s no surprise that they quickly became out of date when you consider the speed at which technology has advanced in recent years.
In fact, they’re the subject of regular complaints from patients who are frustrated with either the cost of the systems or the fact they’re simply not working how they’d like them to.
There are innovative alternatives available that utilise patients’ own devices. This eliminates the need for unreliable hardware and gives patients the freedom to access unlimited entertainment via their own phone or tablet.
Switching patient entertainment systems is easier than you might think. We understand the common feelings of doubt and uncertainty that large-scale changes like this can cause. However, innovative systems can utilise existing WiFi infrastructure. It’s simply taking an asset you already have and using it to its full potential. This represents less risk and real value for Trusts.
Utilising the existing infrastructure, Trusts can implement systems that do so much more than what’s currently available. Bedside monitors can be used as engagement platforms, giving the patient access to not only entertainment, but also educational content, meal ordering forms and so much more.
These systems are a huge improvement on legacy systems and when introduced, they significantly boost patient, visitor and staff satisfaction. However, like with many other innovations, they face the problem of approval from Trusts.
The Trusts understand the benefits of the new systems and other innovations like it, they’re just a little cautious of the risks and potential costs. It’s ultimately a budgeting issue, so it’s up to the innovators to show where savings will be made and the massive improvements that patients will see as a result.
For example, new patient entertainment systems can help Trusts meet CQUIN targets and save £182,000 per year on food wastage.
The future of legacy patient entertainment
Watch our webinar to find out more about our vision to transform hospital technology as a means of providing free entertainment and revolutionising engagement for patients and staff across the NHS.