Patients awaiting endoscopy procedures are set to benefit from a new partnership between Olympus and Inhealthcare that aims to increase NHS diagnostic capacity in the recovery phase of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Data from the National Endoscopy Database shows activity fell by 95% during the peak of the crisis.
And to help NHS trusts catch up, Olympus and Inhealthcare have launched the Digital Education Solution.
The service aims to improve health outcomes, reduce missed appointments, and ease the strain on overstretched hospitals by digitising the patient journey from referral through to post-procedure patient feedback.
The service offers personalised support and engaging educational materials for patients and cuts out admin work for staff when NHS clinics are operating with limited capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions and an increased paperwork burden due to symptom checking and screening.
We are using the latest innovations in healthcare to deliver specialist endoscopy services as part of our COVID-19 response
The service replaces traditional paper packs with digital communications in the weeks and days leading up to the procedure, with clear instructions for preparations.
Staff are able to monitor communications and intervene if and when patients need extra guidance allowing for the most-effective use of resources.
According to a national survey of endoscopy, 7% of NHS acute services had Did Not Attend rates of more than 10% in 2017. And, with reduced capacity, missed appointments have become even more costly.
It has been estimated that COVID-19-related delays to cancer diagnoses and treatment could be responsible for nearly 7,000 extra deaths in England.
To address this, The South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is adopting the Digital Education Solution at The James Cook University Hospital’s endoscopy unit.
Dr John Greenaway, consultant gastroenterologist, said: “The service empowers patients with improved communications and helps them overcome any fears they might have ahead of their procedures.
“It creates capacity within the system by streamlining administrative processes and reducing the bureaucratic burden.
“We are using the latest innovations in healthcare to deliver specialist endoscopy services as part of our COVID-19 response.”
Simple interventions such as the Digital Education Solution can drive efficiency in clinics and expand diagnostics capacity so more people can get the treatment they need
Graham Popham, head of market access at Olympus, added: “Given the current situation with the pandemic making appointments even more valuable, we feel there has never been a more-appropriate time to support patients coming into endoscopy services.
“We anticipate the Digital Education Solution will benefit patients by providing personalised digital support every step of the way on the lead-up their appointment to ensure everything runs smoothly for both the patient and the endoscopy team.”
And Bryn Sage, chief executive at Inhealthcare, said: “The pandemic has put extraordinary demands on the NHS.
“Simple interventions such as the Digital Education Solution can drive efficiency in clinics and expand diagnostics capacity so more people can get the treatment they need.
“Digital health should be front and centre of the recovery phase from the pandemic.”