Mona Hayat, CEO and Founder of Nexus Digital Technology, speaks to Healthcare World’s Sarah Cartledge about how patient pathways can be revolutionised in the UK
In the UK, patient pathways and referrals are increasingly outdated. While the standard of secondary care and elective healthcare may be incredibly high, the healthcare industry still has a long way to go in making the process of reaching these goals simpler, cost-effective, and less stressful for the patient, ensuring a higher standard of care.
Mona Hayat, CEO of Nexus Digital Technology, is clear about the need for patient pathways to be fully integrated and digitalised to improve the entire journey from pre-care to post-care. Mona created Nexus as the digital solution to the growing need for prevention treatments, and to empower patients to forge their own path to health via a personalised wellness journey. In her view, a holistic approach to wellness is key to maintaining all aspects of patient health.
But Nexus is more than just a wellness hub. By using the Nexus platform, GPs and care providers are easily able to share and access patient information, providing them with the full patient overview before arrival. Furthermore, Nexus can provide patients with immediate access to online health coaches and other services on the platform, enabling them to receive a higher standard of care throughout their journey.
Nexus also gives the incoming patient an opportunity to be socialised before their arrival through access to services and by providing additional information to the patient. This does a great deal in tackling any anxieties. As Mona says, “We are completely equipping the patient to best understand the experience they are about to have.”
The need for an integrated patient pathway
She goes on to give an example of the current pathway for someone seeking secondary care – either an elective procedure or a specialist referral. It begins with the initial GP consultation, the first conversation with a primary care provider.
Following this, the patient is sent for diagnostics, which would likely occur in a hospital or outpatient facility. These diagnostics have to be returned to the GP and then a referral is made – this is when the patient enters secondary care. This process, while it may be effective, is hindered by the lack of ease in sharing patient information – not necessarily for reasons of security, which must always be considered, but rather a lack of innovation in this space.
It is important to recognise where the information sits at this point in time. The GP has access to the patient’s medical records, the diagnostics, and any other information which may be pertinent to the case. Yet, this is where the system begins to show its age. There is no single information exchange where clinicians can access the information they need as soon as possible – which may seem unusual for a national health service. Rather, the patient now has to re-record their information as they move through the admissions process into secondary care.
This process is further exacerbated if they are going into surgery or undergoing an elective procedure. The patient now has to undertake a pre-operation assessment, re-record their information and present it. While there could be an argument made here for ensuring that mistakes are not made, and that clinicians are fully aware of the patient’s information and requirements, it seems riskier to introduce yet another potential for human error.
“It is clear that this procedure is far from coherent,” says Mona. “At the moment, we often rely on patients to carry printed information to their appointments, and this is without considering the targets for digitalisation in the healthcare sector. If we could digitalise these systems, the ease and convenience it would bring to the patient would know no bounds. In addition, there would no longer be question marks around the data – what date the patient may have had their assessment or which information sits in each form – as everything is accessible and verifiable.” This digitalisation of patient data follows the patient through their treatment pathway, enabling the potential for seamless interoperability from disparate organisations.
Currently, the Nexus app has the ability for information to be uploaded as the patient goes through secondary care procedures. “But if we were to bring online some of the other solutions, for instance Health Care First, one of our partners within Healthcare World, immediately you have that seamless end- to-end pathway for the patient,” says Mona. “They are the primary care providers and if their services were added to our platform, suddenly you have most information in one secure place via a fully automated system.”
The ability to share information
Yet, one of the key issues facing the digitisation of patient data is the difficulty and even the desire to share information. GDPR and data protection are absolutely critical, and rightly so – patient information and confidentiality is imperative, especially when dealing with highly sensitive information in the relatively new arena of digital innovation. These regulations of data protection are absolutely required.
“We need to have the processes we have in place for data protection. They are critical, but they do not need to prevent us from having digital seamless provision across our healthcare services because it is already happening elsewhere in the world.”
However, this places operators in a difficult position. Even if tools exist to enable information to flow easily while maintaining the highest levels of security and standards, are operators willing and ready to resign control over their data?
“From a range of our competitors and partners in this industry we have seen a hesitance to share information and a requirement to maintain a level of ownership over data. However, we believe the complete opposite is needed. How are we going to achieve actual improvements in healthcare if we aren’t sharing information?” says Mona.
And this is where the Nexus platform can resolve the dilemma. By recognising the need to share information, Mona also recognises the need to protect the data. “It has to be owned within healthcare, not within Nexus,” she says. “We are happy for our healthcare providers to own the data because it brings the UK in line with other regions. The UAE and some European countries have electronic medical records that are seamless and end-to-end. If other areas are doing it, why can’t the UK?”