A New Era For Hospital Technology at the Private Healthcare Summit 2020

By Stuart Hymers, Sales Manager
The Private Healthcare Summit

This month we attended our first Virtual Conference and Exhibition, the Private Healthcare Summit, run by LaingBuisson on 23rd and 30th June. 

As an event that we normally enjoy attending each year at the QEII Conference Centre, in the shadow of Westminster, it was impressive to see how the use of technology has overcome not just delivering the presentations on the agenda, but also the networking, Q&A and poll aspects of the conference.

The first presentations of the Private Healthcare Summit naturally focussed on the current experience of private hospitals in their support of the NHS with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the route back to normality. 

How Coronavirus has brought 4 years of technology into 4 months

A theme that ran through each of these talks was the part that video conferencing has to play in how clinicians will engage with patients, rather than requiring unnecessary visits on public transport or to socially distanced waiting rooms. The resounding conclusion seemed that this move online would be here to stay.

As a business, we’ve been using Microsoft Teams and its’ predecessors for telephony for a number of years, but it was great to hear that the private hospitals are starting to embrace this technology.  As part of our summer release of Compucare, we’ll be integrating with Microsoft Teams to allow our customers to have seamless integration with this platform. The functionality will greatly benefit Compucare users from a scheduling perspective, and also from a clinician/patient perspective for launching the planned video consultations. 

PROMs submissions drop lower than 10% during lockdown

Hospitals are now starting their attempts to attract back private patients. This was apparent through another common theme at the event; the need to ensure prospective patients are provided with the important information on Patient Satisfaction and Patient Reported Outcomes (PROMs) that they look to during their purchasing decision/hospital selection.   

It was surprising to hear from Andrew Vallance-Owen, from PHIN, that the response rate they’re seeing on some PROMs submissions, particularly cataract patients, was extremely low (sub 10% for some providers).  However, this seems to have paved the way for Patient Apps as the chosen solution to connect with patients both before and after surgery. As well as to drive up patient engagement.  

Compucare’s new Patient Portal is planned to launch in the early Autumn, which will provide Compucare customers with a new platform to engage with their patients. Allowing patients to view important details of upcoming booking/admissions and securely sharing correspondence. Additionally, the ability to pay deposits and settle outstanding balances online. 

Positive outlook despite decrease of 84% in Private Patient Episodes

The final sessions of the 30th drew attention to the small mountain that has to be climbed; The challenge of re-opening hospitals, particularly to self-pay patients, as capacity is made available/released from NHS ring-fencing of private resources.  During Liz Heath’s presentation, a consultant for LaingBuisson, we saw figures referenced from PHIN regarding the predicted reduction in private admitted patient care throughout the crisis. The results were both shocking, yet unsurprising: 

2020 estimated count of private episodes  
Source: PHIN - “Covid-19 and private healthcare: the data” (18/06/2020)
2020 estimated count of private episodes  
Source: PHIN – “Covid-19 and private healthcare: the data” (18/06/2020) 

However, the industry seems optimistic in rising to the challenge. Alex Singleton, Director of Communications and Marketing at Circle Health, explained what their hospital group is doing to engage the self-pay market. Particularly, with the newly emerging group of 55 to 65-year-old technology literate patients, aptly named the “silver swipers”.

Not only are they investing in the latest technology, but also in observant customer service throughout the patient’s decision journey. This is to better affirm the patient’s selection and to create true patient loyalty. Both of these themes mirror our culture here at Streets Heaver. Our company continually invests in our technology and also in the CPD of our colleagues with regards to delivering great customer service. 

A cautious hope of returning to normality for 2021

In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed our attendance at this year’s Private Healthcare Summit. I commend LaingBuisson for bringing us all together, and in their near-seamless use of the technology to make the conference happen. 

However, I hope that next year’s conference will be back to being in person with the ability to engage with our customers and industry friends over lunch. Plus the well deserved after-event drinks reception. 

Streets Heaver is a leading provider of healthcare software, delivering solutions across the UK and beyond. To find out more, click here.