Interoperability: What lies on the other side of COVID-19?

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Interoperability: What lies on the other side of COVID-19?

Liam King, Director of Customer and Commercial, Healthcare Gateway. 

Back in March lives, businesses amongst many other things changed in a flash, looking forward we can take a moment to reflect on the learnings and challenges faced as the curve begins to flatten and we emerge into the new ‘norm.’

At the onset, Healthcare Gateway moved from a predominantly office-based workforce across two offices – one in Leeds and one in Dundee, to a 100% remote working team almost overnight. We successfully did not furlough any of our staff and have focused on staff health and wellbeing to ensure they were well equipped to continue serving our customers.

My family and I watched Boris Johnson set out the conditional plan around relaxing the lockdown measures during his last national broadcast… It was clear, that Boris was feeling the pressure to reduce measures as soon as possible. However, I agreed that the metrics we should be using to drive any decisions around the relaxation of the lockdown conditions was the science and the data.

The economy is important but the health of the nation is more so. As a business planning for the new norm, we will be taking the PM’s advice and our staff continuing to work from home. One of the considerations our leadership team have discussed at length is the physical and mental wellbeing of our team. Although we are all experiencing this pandemic together individuals face their own challenges that differ from person to person. Some are missing the social interaction an office environment provides, others missing loved ones. Families are juggling home working while homeschooling/childcare, and there are many worrying about job security. With all this in the mix, returning to work no doubt, brings levels of apprehension. 

It’s important we retain the positive elements that have affected how we do business during this time. Efficient meetings, continued productivity, businesses working together more collaboratively and even the sense of not rushing around on our morning commutes. 

Balance is key. Creating a safe environment in which anxieties are softened and staff are supported with a well-planned, staged approach to reopen offices that considers all staff.

As the NHS has faced its greatest challenge in its history, it’s been refreshing to be a part of a ‘togetherness’ approach in supporting the NHS in responding to COVID-19 to save patient lives. I hope this joined-up way of working with our customers, partners and colleagues continues to support an ever-evolving health technology space. Our priority is that patient data continues to flow to the clinicians who need it the most, when they need it and where they need it to provide more informed, efficient patient care. Applying the lessons learned from COVID-19 into other long-term conditions support moving forward. 

COIVD-19 has been a national effort taking place at a regional level. It was highlighted to me there is even more need for health and social care to work collectively and collaboratively to achieve common goals. The Medical Interoperability Gateway (MIG) provides national data sharing at a local level. 

Product strategy for the MIG, in line with NHS directives, is to support a more standardised message using RESTful and FHIR. Further to this, making the sharing of data more intuitive and intelligent. 

Historically, we’ve used our proprietary messaging in the absence of any national standards, however, our strategy is to support the NHS directive moving forward.

We aim to continue to add to our suite of data providers (GP, community, mental health, acute and social care). In particular, we aim to add more feeds from different healthcare settings to support the full patient journey, regardless of which organisations their treatment spans.

Right now we can only predict what the new norm may look like, but from our experiences responding to COVID-19, and a reset of this industry can only improve and build a stronger NHS and supplier community that puts the patient at the heart of everything we do. 

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