It’s one thing understanding what health services are in place for the local population – but how do you know what services should be provided and where the gaps are?
It’s crucial to get to grips with the make-up and demography of the local population.
By risk stratifying the population, it is possible to see and establish the gaps in services, and in so doing ensure that any service redesign delivers what the population needs rather than what may currently exist.
If we take diabetes as an example, much of my work has been in areas of significant deprivation, where the prevalence of diabetes – particularly in Type 2 diabetes – has been two, sometimes three times the national average. Yet services, especially those for patients with more complex needs, are generally not adequate to meet the needs of those patients.
We would, therefore, expect to see the local Integrated Care System (ICS) to be working closely with their Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to prioritise services to meet those needs and looking at complete pathway redesign as a consequence.
Switch from reactive to proactive
A proactive approach can be taken to meeting the needs of the local population by re-designing pathways in a collaborative and integrated way with the organisations that make up the ICS – and by ensuring that patients are seen in the right place, at the right time by the right healthcare professional for their needs.
The key to success is that proactive pathway approach, and not the reactive approach that is so often seen.
You need to understand the make-up and demographics of the population first. Then you can understand the prevalence of disease within the population. And where disease cannot be prevented, it can be diagnosed and treated at a much earlier stage. This helps prevent disease progression, unnecessary complications and reduces the impact on health and social care.
Wearable technology can offer valuable patient insight
This can be achieved by using wearable technology that is easy to access and gives rapid diagnosis so that treatments can commence as quickly as possible. An example from my work would be the use of 24, 48 and 72-hour ECGs to diagnose arrhythmias and ensure patients are quickly anti-coagulated to prevent stroke – the downstream consequence of not taking a proactive approach.
A further example is around frailty which, with an increasingly ageing population often living with multiple morbidities, is a challenge for both health and social care. Where primary, community and voluntary organisations collaborate and integrate in a proactive way, it is possible to manage disease and keep people independent for as long as possible, again reducing the burden of cost and reducing workloads on a stretched system.
So, while understanding population need and taking a proactive approach may be challenging to achieve in a system that is largely reactive, this key element of the Long Term Plan is vital for the sustainability of our health and social care system.
Tie your budget impact models to the prevention agenda
This is an area where your budget impact models and data can play an important role. You often have better data available in a usable format than we can get inside the NHS. However, you will need to tie your approach, data and budget impact models to the prevention agenda and at the same time link that to positively impacting the workload and the workforce (please see earlier article on this topic).
You may find my article Covid changed the NHS forever. Has your sales pitch adapted? of interest too. It looks at how you start to work on the NHS agenda and move beyond your molecule, device or technology to deliver something remarkable within the disease or therapeutic area you work in.
Scott McKenzie helps pharmaceutical, medical technology and device firms increase revenue by getting their products and services in front of the right NHS decision makers. If you want to get your products fully embedded into treatment pathways, we can help you. We’ve doubled revenue for our clients and can share these processes with you too. Download your free guide: here
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