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Blog: Why digital advances are so important to new hospitals

Steven Hipwell, Digital Lead for the New Hospitals Programme

Lancashire and South Cumbria’s New Hospitals Programme aims to develop new, cutting-edge hospital facilities that offer modern healthcare, and digital advances are a fundamental factor. The NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit (MLCSU) is providing digital consultancy services to the programme. In the first of two blogs, Steven Hipwell, Senior Programme Consultant at MLCSU and Digital Lead for the New Hospitals Programme, discusses the benefits of technology in hospitals and why digital is so important for new hospital facilities.

How can new technology improve hospitals for patients?

Lots of people are scared of hospitals. It’s often not somewhere you would choose to go. Patients go for very specific, sometimes nerve-wracking reasons. We want to be able to make it easier for patients to plan their visit and improve their experience when they are here.

Before patients even get to the hospital, we can make changes so that hospitals are easier to find. We can introduce clearer directions both on our hospital websites and at the buildings, with digital wayfinding.

We can create ways for patients to easily book and amend their appointments online, with as few clicks as possible. We can also make sure all information meets accessibility standards, for those who have additional needs.

Another benefit of technology in hospitals is how it makes the buildings much more inviting too. We can control and manage the lights, heating, and air conditioning with the click of a button, and make sure patient arrival is super smooth. We’ll also ensure WiFi is available and reliable for all.

Patients would also see the benefits of the improvements to patient record systems, some of which are still paper based, by moving them all to a digital system. This would ensure a more seamless approach to storing their personal information.

How can new technology improve hospitals for staff?

We would see major improvements if the many different electronic systems used by the different departments within the hospital (and other settings outside the hospital too) all work together. Digitising all patient record systems, for example, would not only improve the experience for patients, but also save time for staff as well.

Technology can also benefit our hardworking facilities teams, for example, automated ordering can also be used to re-order stock, book maintenance and look for the best deals on stock, against the procurement framework.

And of course, a more comfortable environment, enabled by digital advances, will make our staff’s general working day easier as well.

Read Steven’s full blog on the New Hospitals Programme website.

Look out for his second blog next week.