According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), close to 350,000 patients are spending more than three weeks in the acute care unit per annum. Most of these patients tend to be vulnerable elderly whereby a short span of treatment in hospitals is often necessary. However, prolong hospital stay could make them even more susceptible to infections or deteriorations in organs and body parts, leaving them less mobile to perform tasks which they are capable of doing previously.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, an initiative to prepare the 70-year-old public health system for the future, medical and healthcare staff were encouraged to be part of a campaign “Where Best Next?”, whereby they will actively consider questions such as “why not home? Why not today” while they conjure a care plan for individual patient recovering from an operation or illness. The effort aims to spare 140,000 people from hospital stays lasting for three weeks or more.

The new e-learning tool

As such, NHS England and Health Education England officially launched a new e-learning tool on 5 November, to guide its medical and healthcare staff into helping patients to reduce their length of hospital stay. Known as ActNow, the program comes with “bring to life” content, taking learners through a wealth of resources and transforming them into personalized actions to prevent hospital admission or assist patients to get home sooner.

The e-learning tool is widely targeted at clinical health and social care staff ranging from nurses, allied health professionals, support and care workers. It allows users to be more aware of the factors leading to a prolong hospital stay and how they can be minimized. The NHS believes by making use of new technology, staff could effectively plan early discharges and emphasize on providing more care for those at home. The e-learning tool also facilitate professional development as staff are engaged in continuous learning digitally.

A way to ease the pressure on public health system

In the press release, Hilary Garratt, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer said, “we want to ensure that all patients benefit from the shortest possible stay on a ward, getting home as soon as they are fit to leave with the support they need not only that is better for them, reducing the risk of infection or loss of mobility for older people in particular, but it also means that more beds are available for others who need care too, easing pressure on A&E and other parts of the system”.

Indeed, the NHS is relentlessly tapping onto new technologies to relieve the ongoing pressure coming from insufficient funding, staff, and an effective and up-to-date management. AS mentioned by some of the NHS leaders in the recent AIMed Europe took place in London, some of these effort a foundation building, to establish a clear pipeline for others to come on board. The process is going to be challenging, in view of the many needs but all of which will change the mindsets of the present generation of healthcare service providers and turning each challenge into opportunities.

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Hazel Tang

A science writer with data background and an interest in the current affair, culture, and arts; a no-med from an (almost) all-med family. Follow on Twitter.