For well over a year now my own GP practice has delivered its appointment services mostly online. If you are elderly or don’t have online access you can still phone them, but most patients are encouraged to use their new online GP service. However, this certainly isn’t the norm. Before the coronavirus remote consultations were still relatively uncommon. For example, NHS Digital figures show that in 2019 less than one in every 100 of all GP appointments was carried out by online video consultation and nearly four in 10 people had no access to online appointments.
But since the start of the pandemic NHS England have asked 7,000 GP surgeries to conduct as many remote consultations as possible, replacing patient visits with phone, video, online or text contact. Although face-to-face consultations are still available for those that need them. A recent report from the Royal College of GPs found that 71% of appointments are currently taking place over the phone, with only 26% visiting a surgery.
Remote Working in the NHS
For me personally, in the build-up to the current lockdown, the ability to get questions answered via real-time, online chats all by logging into the service on my mobile was invaluable. It helped me get the advice I needed without leaving my home.
My local surgery has been able to transition their patient base to remote consultations with relative ease. But many surgeries, and the NHS in general, are now having to rapidly deploy and procure technology to help tackle the crisis.
This is evident from many of the projects my colleagues have recently worked on. We have helped hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and support services such as the police, rapidly deploy the remote working technology they needed.
This was brought even closer to home with a project we are delivering for my local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). While doctors can use desktops within their own GP surgeries for remote consultations, many don’t have access to a secondary, secure, GDPR compliant device. To enable GP’s and medical staff to work from home or remotely, CANCOM is delivering nearly 500 laptops to individual doctors’ surgeries across the county.
Helping our NHS customers quickly adopt the technology they need allows us to play a small part in supporting our NHS heroes on the frontline.
Remote Working Across All Sectors
So, whether the coronavirus will prompt a permanent move to more remote-based working and consultations across the NHS remains to be seen. But, how is it likely to impact other sectors, longer term?
As a tech company most of us here at CANCOM have been set up to work remotely for some time now. This allows me to manage and work with a team based in different corners of the UK - across the South East, South West, East Midlands and Northern Ireland.
Even though we have an established working from home rhythm and are well-practised in using technology such as Microsoft Teams, as an organisation we have still had to make some rapid adjustments to the new-normal.
Like every organisation, we need to keep everyone engaged, up-to-date and motivated.Using Live events on Teams and real time chat channels in Yammer have been invaluable for staff engagement during this crisis. In fact, these tools have become central to our Business Continuity Planning. For example, our CEO now talks to our entire workforce in his All-Hands Elevenses call, every single Monday via Microsoft Teams. Previously, this would have happened but much less frequently, and he wouldn’t necessarily have had the pleasure of seeing him in his Brighton football shirt!
We use Yammer and Teams for internal shout outs to praise exceptional work, to share latest company news, to ask questions and to promote all of our current social and fundraising activities: including our Friday virtual pub, The CANCOM Arms; our weekly cryptic quiz or game of virtual Bingo; daily personal training sessions; and the latest contribution to our Lockdown Innovation Challenge or regular competitions we run for our colleagues and their families.
If you are struggling to maintain staff engagement during these difficult times, I would recommend using Teams and Yammer to boost engagement. It has certainly helped everyone across CANCOM to collaborate. And despite nearly all of us being in lockdown and working remotely, we have never felt more connected or worked more closely together.
Head of Marketing, CANCOM