The number of people on NHS’ waiting lists for consultant-led elective care has now surpassed 7 million, marking an alarming record high. This figure is up from 4.5 million prior to COVID-19, highlighting the lasting impact caused by the pandemic in the UK alone. On account of this healthcare crisis, we are exploring how human-centered design (HCD) can be used to reduce the patient backlog, drive efficiencies, and streamline outpatient appointments.
During this analysis, BCG experts placed a particular focus on driving value and understanding human behaviour. But above all, we set out to define the ways in which technology could be applied to digitise, automate, accelerate healthcare operations and improve the experience of patients and professionals.
Sustainable speed to impact
To make this investigation measurable, we established a set of targets and combined them with rigorous desirability, viability and feasibility (DVF) analysis. The purpose of this was to ensure our concepts would meet the strategic objectives of the NHS, address patient and healthcare professional needs, while also considering the requirements to promote real adoption.
By applying HCD, operating model and Next-Gen Architecture Engineering lenses to the challenges at hand, we were able to conduct effective use-case prioritisation, performance optimisation, and process automation. We also considered where Front-to-Back Digitization could be applied to achieve transformational results, and the integration of data-led decision making. Implementing these perspectives and capabilities positioned us to identify ways to sustainably increase speed to impact.
Gaining insights directly from frontline clinicians was a crucial phase in the process, as they equipped us with visibility of pain points and opportunities, while allowing us to map the current pathway. Once the insights had been gathered in an end-to-end way, we could create targeted initiatives using the method described above.
Clinician feedback remained highly important throughout the process, helping us adapt the solutions we were developing and accurately measure their potential impact. A desirability assessment provided an effective means of understanding the requirements to implement the concepts, and the approach for doing so. This step involved creating detailed definitions of priority initiatives, feasibility assessments, and road mapping.
We estimated that this concept could achieve an adoption rate of 74%, and result in a reduction in follow-up appointments of between 5 and 10%."
In one priority case, we devised a concept called the Outpatient Waiting List Optimiser, which was designed to provide an efficient, tech-driven way for administrators to view and prioritise upcoming appointments. This would work by better handling and leveraging patient data to eliminate unnecessary appointments, and provide real-time updates on patient status. Gaining a clearer view of patient status would enable healthcare professionals to accelerate patients in the most critical condition along the clinical pathway. Using our comprehensive approach, we estimated that this concept could achieve an adoption rate of 74%, and result in a reduction in follow-up appointments of between 5 and 10%.
With initial estimates established, we could begin developing a strategic roadmap with the goal of reducing follow-ups by as much as 20%. An important roadmap milestone included prioritising the features with the highest value to maintain momentum and fund the overall journey. It also involved sequencing delivery with a strong focus on key dependencies, such as data storage and dashboard visualisations.
During this process, it is beneficial to begin by assessing the concept’s more straightforward features, such as appointment tracking, before moving onto the more complex use cases. For example, greater digital adoption is achieved by starting with outpatient waiting lists for administrators, before moving onto POP Pathway Metrics for Clinicians.
At all times, our expert teams ensured that solutions were developed, tested and mapped alongside a robust business case. This case would also be validated by a clinical audit of targeted specialities from across different hospitals and trusts. The whole process was also grounded in a well-established architecture, the kind that facilitates integration with multiple existing and emerging healthcare service providers.
Due to the scalability across different hospitals and their differing levels of digital maturity that this step in the process provides, it is one of the most vital. Above all, our approach offered a professionally validated view of key opportunities to improve existing operations, carried out within a rapid proof of concept phase.