Patient Anxiety And The Impact On NHS Staff And Services

I’ve had the privilege of working with the NHS for over 20 years in many capacities, and joining Mitel reinforced my passion for leveraging technology to impact patients and clinicians.

The NHS deals with a number of challenges, with many elements of the services they provide impacting the patient and clinician experience tremendously. If we strip it back to basics, communication between the NHS and the patient is the key to enhancing that experience and ensuring increased attendance, an open and stress-free experience and efficiencies in the day-to-day activities.

Consider this: when I book a taxi to take me to the train station, I can do it via phone, email, text, apps and even web chat. Then, I get notified when the taxi is on its way including, what car it is and the name of the driver, and I get another notification when it arrives. If a taxi company can do this, why not implement and integrate those technologies into interactions with the NHS too?

Impact On Patients

In the last two weeks, I have witnessed the impact of patient anxiety firsthand twice. The first time, I was at a shop when an elderly gentleman waiting behind me began noticeably shaking with anxiety and breathing heavily. When I asked if he was okay, he said he needed to drink water before his doctor appointment and this was the only place to get some water in the area. But, he had just ten minutes to get to his appointment on time and he was running late because the car parks were full.

This made me think about the impact his anxiety will have on that appointment. The gentleman will turn up flustered and unprepared for an appointment in a clinic that is probably running late. Once he’s there waiting, trying to calm down, he will likely get annoyed that he has rushed for no reason. That annoyance will turn to anger, and that will be the emotion he will take into the appointment, instead of being relaxed, prepared and in the right state of mind to get the information he needs. Also, consider the implications of this for the NHS staff, who are often faced with angry, frustrated or anxious patients every day.

Don't just take our word for it. Learn more with these healthcare case studies. >

The second time I witnessed how frequent and impactful patient anxiety is was during a discussion with two people running a switchboard for a large acute trust. As one of the main interfaces for patients, they take ensuring patients get the information they need seriously. This often means calling around the whole organisation to gather the information that has failed to be communicated to the patient, who frequently experiences stress and anxiety because of this lack of information. These two employees have over sixty years combined experience, yet what they do on a day-to-day basis is increasingly becoming unmanageable. Healthcare communications solutions tailored for the NHS could simplify their tasks, boost efficiency and reduce patient anxiety tremendously.

Going Forward

What if the interaction between the trust the employees worked for and the patient was interactive? How much better would the patient experience be if they could get a notifications telling you your appointment is running late, the wait time for blood tests is 45 minutes or the wait time in A & E is 4 hours? Wouldn’t it be great if you could use web chat, email, messaging or a collaboration app to communicate with the trust, instead of just calling the switchboard? Imagine the impact on both staff and patients if everyone was actively given information that is relevant to them.

Thankfully, these capabilities are available today in the form of innovative unified communications and collaboration technology. Mitel is well-placed to help trusts embrace this technology and revolutionize how patients, clinicians and admin teams communicate and collaborate every day, dramatically improving the patient experience start to finish. 

Mitel has helped countless healthcare organisations transform their patient experience. Learn about East Midlands Ambulance Service's experience here. >

Steven Lawrence

Steven Lawrence

Head of Healthcare, UK

Steven Lawrence is Head of Healthcare Sales at Mitel, focused on helping UK Healthcare organisations collaborate and improve patient outcomes through better communication. Steven understands the challenges the NHS are increasingly facing and has a wealth of experience, including over 20 years of selling IT solutions to the healthcare sector.

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