Does the shift to digital healthcare risk widening the inequalities that have been highlighted during the coronavirus pandemic? SCW’s MD Michael van Hemert was one of four panelists to assess the situation at a virtual roundtable event.
The discussion was recounted in the Future of Healthcare report published in the Times newspaper in association with Raconteur on 25 March 2021.
We share Michael’s responses to some of the thought-provoking questions:
What are the most important things learned about inequalities and digital healthcare over the last 12 months?
‘It has certainly brought inequalities into sharp focus. It’s also forced the pace on the whole digital-first agenda within healthcare and challenged some of our assumptions, around, for instance, senior people being digitally aware. We were aware of these issues, but they have now gone to the top of the list.’
Are we making the best use of the tools and data we already have?
‘I think we’re making really good use of it, but we could do more. It’s about having a cultural openness to it. And sometimes you could say the tools can do more than people have the headspace to use. You can produce reports with fantastic information but people sometimes don’t have the time to dig in and gain insight.’
‘Geospatial systems (GIS) is a good example. It allows us to visualise data in a way that people can really connect to; it means something to people and they can relate right away. We’ve seen huge growth in the amount of GIS work we’re doing and we’ve doubled our team in the last year or two.’
‘Another good example is mapping the low uptake of vaccinations and seeing if there is any particular geographical pattern. That’s been incredibly useful in drawing conclusions about why certain individuals aren’t getting the vaccine when invited.’
Is the move to more digital delivery of healthcare, such as video outpatient and GP consultations lasting?
Some of the surge of progress we’ve had throughout COVID perhaps won’t be maintained, some has subsided already. But I do think there will be lasting change in the way people use data and making sure solutions such as clinical pathways are digitally led. I think it’s important to ensure equality, ensuring that digital is not the only way to access good care.’
Read the full discussion on page seven of the report.