Frontline nurses employed to manage the health of patients in their own home, are spending more time in front of their screens than screening patients, it has emerged.

In a recent address too NHS managers, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens revealed that time spent on admin now outweighs time spent with patients.


The NHS has aggressive targets to better deliver frontline services, and so to hear this is shocking. Surely there’s a more efficient way of delivering services in 2018, and enable staff to care for their patients. After all, I’m sure that is the job that they would much rather be doing.

Given that all of us are stakeholders in this conundrum, it’s what we would rather them be doing too. Especially as he also suggested the frustration of this administrative burden is prompting staff to leave the profession.

The encouraging thing about Simon Stevens’ speech was his recognition of the opportunity this presents to the NHS, an institution that we all value so highly.

He goes on to highlight that whilst the NHS has received additional government funding, this needs to be invested in a way that will improve efficiency and deliver a better service to the public.

And, with previous NHS IT ventures failing to hit the mark – not only does this funding need a clear, defined strategy, it also has to ensure the funding doesn’t get absorbed in “red tape’, a claim too often directed to the NHS given it’s such a huge but disparate organisation.

In our world, we look at frontline workers as “end-users”. Regardless of whether they are administering drugs, selling train tickets or serving in a restaurant, “users” all have a common goal – to deliver an efficient, excellent service to the consumer.

Technology has enabled this to happen in a multitude of industries. I’m confident that if planned and managed correctly, technology could hugely reduce the admin burden on frontline workers, freeing up valuable time to care for patients.

For instance, I’m aware that in many cases patient data is updated “on the go”. This is often before a nurse has jumped back into their car – so we’re not a million miles away.

However, for it to be successful, frontline staff need to be consulted before any radical changes are implemented.

Understanding how staff work, what information they require and what tools they need to perform their job role is essential in order to provide them with the right tools to enable them to deliver an efficient and effective service. This is precisely what we do at Spherica, and in fact, it’s the very first thing we do as part of any review.

Designing a solution that takes into account their needs and actively consulting with those at the coalface seems so obvious. But there are many organisations that don’t have the resource, experience or foresight in knowing where or how to begin such an initiative.

After all, if you don’t ask your staff what they need to make them more productive and enable them to deliver a better service to your customers, how will you know?

This is a huge opportunity for the NHS to fundamentally modernise how it delivers frontline services and embrace technology to enable it to deliver the world-class service that we have come to expect.

I look forward to seeing how the services are shaped and delivered in the near future and have high hopes that Simon Stevens can be the NHS visionary that this great institution deserves.

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