At the King’s Fund MCP (Multi-Speciality Community Providers) event last week we heard from some leaders in the field of implementing new models of care. The sessions highlighted how great the need for change is and how urgently the country’s health services need it. The role of IT and digital services was central in discussions on transforming care.
Chris Jones and Sarah Fatchett from West Wakefield Health and Wellbeing Ltd spoke at the conference about the changes that have been implemented in their area. Particularly exciting was hearing about their new website, built by LookingLocal, and how its care navigation and directory features are a key part of their frontline services. Chris pointed out that 50% of the work currently done by GPs can be done by somebody else, and in West Wakefield they are successfully channelling people to other services by using the digital site.
In the few months it has been up and running there have already been over 2,500 users. By far the most popular page on the site is the one about the HealthPod - a giant, inflatable dome which is used as a mobile unit where different health and wellbeing services are delivered. Bringing services into community areas is proving convenient and popular with people, enabling them to get advice without needing to make an appointment with their GP.
Interestingly, 34% of visits to the website are outside of standard GP surgery opening hours. There is an opportunity here to direct people to self-care and non-emergency services by making helpful and authoritative information available. Providing online assessments and symptom checkers can help relieve some of the traffic from A&E and Walk-in Centres, where a lot people look to outside of conventional office hours. Then linking this with what is available locally is an effective way of reducing pressure on frontline services.
What all this points to is that more and more people want to engage with health and wellbeing services at a digital level and in non-conventional ways. Health organisations, as trusted authorities, can point people in the right direction and influence a new way of providing care.
To see the presentation given by Chris Jones and Sarah Fatchett at the event click here