The chief digital officer of NHSX has said the health service should look to make greater use of virtual wards as it aims to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tara Donnelly has also highlighted a handful of specialities in which digital solutions can play a more significant role.
She has made the points in a blogpost focused on how hospitals can work to reduce the waiting lists caused by the disruption from the pandemic.
Her support for virtual wards – in which patients are given monitors to provide information and manage conditions at home – adds fuel to a movement that has so far seen 22 created for acute hospitals in England, and which are estimated to be saving around 100 beds per day. She pointed to examples such as the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust's community led virtual ward service and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's virtual ward.
“We believe that all trusts and ICSs (integrated care systems) should consider expanding services further to provide more digital home care to groups of patients who would benefit,” Donnelly said.
Efforts to develop more of these could be accompanied by an emphasis on five high volume specialities in which digital solutions have been shown to improve the provision of advice and guidance between clinical teams in primary and hospital care.
These cover dermatology, musculoskeletal treatments, cardiac, perioperative and ear, nose and throat care – for each of which there is a digital playbook developed by NHSX as guidance in using digital ways of working to improve patient outcomes.
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