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Overcoming the productivity paradox in digital health

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There’s no doubt that this has been one of the most challenging years in NHS history; not least, continuing to operationalise a workforce of 1.2million through a pandemic with the added pressure of maintaining staffing levels, onboarding new clinicians and filling posts and rotas left vacant through staff sickness or holidays.

But we should not forget that the NHS workforce crisis was a pre-Covid problem that will still exist post-pandemic unless there are systematic changes that shift our attention to the development of a more sustainable workforce management structure.

With this in mind, and as ‘normal’ NHS service resumes, there is a welcome focus on a comprehensive recovery plan in NHS England’s recently published Priorities and Operational Planning Guidance which lays down clear priorities for the sector moving forward; with an emphasis on supporting staff recovery, a large part of which is contingent on improving workforce supply at pace.

This could be problematic given it is widely accepted that hiring healthcare staff is a lengthy process, with a seemingly endless cycle of interviews, references, DBS and professional registration checks. This resonates with me… as an A&E doctor, I often spent more of my time on data entry and paperwork than on clinical contact -with workforce management being one of the most laborious processes of all. The many disparate and legacy IT systems combined with too many manual processes in the NHS too often creates productivity slowdown, known as the 'productivity paradox’; an 80s phenomenon that has made a resurgence in recent years, particularly in industries where cultural change programmes can’t keep up with technological advancements.

Despite a pressing need to improve efficiency in recruitment and onboarding processes, reports suggest that many healthcare organisations are still carrying out essential hiring steps, such as DBS and professional registration checks, manually.

Manual checks and processes not only come with the risk of human error but also add to the increasing workloads that healthcare staff are already struggling to manage.

I’ve witnessed first-hand how getting the balance wrong between clinical time and the resulting paperwork can really demoralise clinical staff, so the renewed focus on staff wellbeing and a commitment to automate manual processes in the recent guidance is a welcome start to helping reduce the administrative burden for clinicians, especially within recruitment. This is particularly important in the context where there is an evidenced link between staff morale and patient safety.

For healthcare providers looking to stay ahead of the curve and create demonstrable efficiencies, it will be essential to introduce automated systems which make hiring and onboarding clinical staff as fast and efficient as possible, whilst maintaining a robust and compliant process. But we mustn’t forget that cultural change programmes will be required alongside the implementation of technology to ensure we can overcome the productivity paradox.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about how Credentially's software can help support your team, improve efficiency and reduce paperwork, contact our friendly team of professionals today by calling 020 3882 2620 or email at sales@credentially.io.

 

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