Virgin Media Business on the 'Hidden Heroes' in Healthcare Transformation

Widening access to services. Improving patient outcomes. Maximising productivity and efficiency for staff.

These are just some of the ways the private sector can help transform our public services – especially the NHS. Facing a number of challenges, health bosses are exploring how they can deliver care in a way that overcomes these challenges.

It’s likely to involve a shift from a traditional approach towards patient self-management, whereby medical specialists only intervene in the event of a crisis and people use online resources to manage their own conditions. But this is only achievable through skills, innovation and collaboration.

That’s where the private sector comes into the picture. SMEs collaborating with larger enterprises can help the NHS deliver integrated and connected care that meets the needs of people today, as well as future generations.

Breaking down barriers through innovation

The NHS has ambitious targets to meet and Integrated Care Partnerships will play a vital role in helping achieve them. Joining health and social care services will alleviate pressure on hospitals and GP practices – enabling them to focus on the long term.

But while two thirds of NHS and health organisations have started on their integration journey, barriers to success remain. These include incompatible technology and legacy infrastructure – both identified as major obstacles by a majority of health workers (86% and 79% respectively – Source: IGov). Without overcoming these issues, integration between different services is impossible.   

SMEs are helping to solve this through cutting-edge innovation. However, having a diverse partner ecosystem is vital and large enterprises are key players. They offer skills and can drive these positive outcomes – supplying new infrastructure to support accelerated patient transfer systems.

The skills needed to save lives

To meet the challenges of an ageing population, the NHS needs to enable patient-self management. Promisingly, our research showed that the idea was popular – 58% of health workers saw the potential benefits.

But skills gaps within the NHS mean there isn’t always the expertise available needed to deliver the connected innovations that are going to make this new ecosystem a reality.  

However, by supplying a combination of medical knowledge and technical knowhow – supplementing what is already within the NHS – the private sector can play a crucial role in making connected healthcare a reality.

Of course, telehealth and self-management are only going to become more important in the months that follow as the country deals with the COVID-19 crisis.