The modern workplace is designed to meet the physical and technological needs of your organisation and its employees. But in healthcare, due to recent increased needs for distributed teams, brand-new operational models, and complex security issues, the change to working practices has been rapid.
I have found that access to medical professionals is tougher now because of the pandemic. This is where virtual healthcare has stepped up.
Digital technologies can provide a range of services to help alleviate overstretched healthcare systems, minimise the spread of infection, and foster strong patient-clinician relationships. The idea of ‘remote work’ with all its benefits, is not new. The transition to more flexible working arrangements has been gaining momentum for several decades, yet the healthcare sector has been slow to embrace it, COVID-19 has changed that forever.
For stressed healthcare teams there are many positives. Namely less commuting time, greater flexibility, more autonomy, a reduced need for physical real estate, and potentially an increase in motivation and productivity.
I think it’s important to consider the drawbacks too, especially if teams are already suffering from overwork. Potential issues include employee isolation, work intensification, strains on communication and overlap between work and personal life. Behavioural analytics can play key role in addressing these drawbacks. We need to monitor employee wellbeing and job satisfaction, to make sure remote working is manageable and sustainable.
Within healthcare, reliable, fast connections combined with secure apps and modern devices have the power to truly transform daily healthcare operations and patient care.
With the right tech in place, teams can collaborate in real time with multiple individuals in multiple locations, access documents securely inside and outside of the healthcare setting, and benefit from task automation. Collaboration becomes frictionless.
The Chief Clinical Information Officer of an NHS Trust described the impact of a modern workplace on daily hospital operations:
“If you have to wait for 2 minutes whilst the laptop or the computer reconnects as you cross Wi-Fi boundaries, that’s actually 10 minutes of clinical time collectively wasted, with everybody getting more and more frustrated. But since the transformation, that just doesn’t happen anymore.”
With the cyber threat landscape changing at a rapid pace, modern up-to-date protection tools for remote and hybrid working scenarios are essential. In terms of basic cyber security, the healthcare industry often lags behind other sectors like finance and manufacturing who tend to build their infrastructure with data security in mind.
As leaders we need to protect our hospital systems and our staff with an “invisible layer of security” both on and off the hospital campus. The legacy products from big vendors that have been used in the past are no longer enough. Instead, we need to invest in technology that protects against zero-day attacks. To remove the ongoing skills and technology challenges, many of us are finding that external support from expert managed services suppliers is an effective way to remain firmly in control.
The full potential of the NHS’s remote workforce is not fully taken advantage of. Although we are drawn to the benefits of remote work, there is a general reluctance on the part of organisations to offer it, causing a struggle in the recruitment of middle grade staff. Healthcare requires a reframing of the cultures, technologies, and behaviours associated with remote working in order to capitalise on its benefits and ensure the wellbeing of staff.
Now, arguably, is the time for remote and hybrid work solutions to be integrated into the strategic plans, infrastructure, and workflows of healthcare organisations.