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Whole person care

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has issued a report examining the measures required should England’s health and care system move towards the provision of ‘whole person care.’  With the benefit of making the connections between physical health, mental health and social care needs, and supporting people to remain in their own homes as long as they wish, whole person care provides joined up responses to individual needs.

Success is dependent on a number of factors including a long-term investment mindset, aligned incentives, effective use of technology and a flexible workforce. The report concludes that there is clear potential to deliver better outcomes if care services are more coordinated.

Commenting on the report Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) professional adviser, Eve Jenner, said that “physiotherapists were well placed to support whole person care” adding:

“They can act as single point of contact, care coordinators or as part of a team of health and social care professionals providing holistic assessment and treatment to people with long-term conditions.Key success points for whole person care include peer support, tapping into the expertise of others with the same condition, and personalised care plans.  For professionals, the ability to share online access to personal health and care records is also vital.  This last point echoes moves already being made within the health profession to share records.  Not only does this lead to streamlined care, it also saves time and costs and helps to speed up effective treatments.

Simple measures such as electronic storage of patient records are a key step towards this goal.  But not only does electronic storage facilitate the sharing of records, it also streamlines processes.  When patient records are available at the touch of a button there is no wasted time in searching for mis-filed records, no wondering if the record shown is the latest one and no time spent on gathering evidence in preparation for each client appointment.

For health professionals such as physiotherapists and osteopaths, the electronic storing of patient records helps to save administration time which can better be spent on patient treatments.  For health and care professionals as a whole, the move towards whole person care will help them to cost effectively provide the best treatment pathway available for the individual.  The IPPR has identified many issues which are critical for the success of whole person care and they will be looking at these in more depth over the next 12 months.   We’ll keep an eye out for these follow-ups and report as appropriate.

Balancing the Health Budget

The news that the Health Minister, Andrew Lansley, has had to intervene in the running of the South London Healthcare NHS Trust has acted as a wake up call across the health sector.  The trust, which reportedly is running at a £1m per week deficit, may have to be put in the hands of an administrator tasked with turning the deficit around.

A further twenty trusts have reportedly declared themselves to be financially unsustainable in their present form.  Whilst some have put their difficulties down to the cost effects of building new premises under the auspices of the private finance initiative (PFI), others seemingly have more complex underlying financial pressures.

The action taken by the Health Minister is the first step in a process which was laid down in section 65 of the National Health Service Act 2009.  If the full procedure is followed and an administrator appointed they will have to produce a draft report within 45 days, followed by a consultation period of 30 days and a final report 15 days later.

Irrespective of the outcome, this intervention has highlighted the continuing financial pressure facing all those providing health services in the UK.  From large NHS trusts to a sole osteopath, the challenge to control costs and maximise income is the same.  For the smaller health practitioner the need to balance costs and income can prove to be a juggling act between time spent in treatment and time spent on business matters.

Taking appointment booking as an example; the more time spent on patient treatment, the more income generated.  But how do you juggle the need to be with a patient with the need to be available to answer the phone and take a booking?  This is where a dedicated health practitioner virtual receptionist service can play a vital part.  With a virtual receptionist answering calls, dealing with routine queries and managing the diary, health practitioners can concentrate on providing treatment for their patients.  Add in an appointment reminder service and the number of no shows falls, helping to keep income levels strong.

We can’t claim that a virtual receptionist service is the panacea which solves the NHS funding crisis.  However, for those working in the health sector from physiotherapists to beauticians and from massage therapists to health clinics a virtual receptionist may just be the first step towards balancing the budget.

Contact us today to discover how Clinic Appointments can help your clinic. Book your free demo call now to learn more.