In recent months we have all seen the heroic efforts of the NHS and marvelled at the way they have dealt with the challenge of Covid-19.
But behind the scenes, there has been a number of other changes that may have gone unnoticed unless they, of course, they touched you personally. And I was impressed to see how a treatment pathway that I was on changed as a result of Covid.
To explain: I suffer from sleep apnoea and am undergoing a programme of investigation that had reached a stage requiring me to use a machine to help me breathe at night. On the outbreak of Covid, most if not all the machines were re-prioritised to support those requiring assistance in dealing with Covid. The machine I was hoping to get was now no longer available. But I didn’t mind – there were far more pressing patients to be dealt with.
And with no expectations of any progress, I was surprised one morning to receive a phone call from the clinic asking me if I’d like to join a trial of a new way of being treated. In a flash “Of course” was my answer. And so I was invited to an appointment in the car park of the hospital to allow social distancing,, where I would be issued with my machine that would let me resume my treatment
No problem! But how would follow-ups take place I wondered? The answer, of course, was: Remotely. and to facilitate that the machines had been adapted so that they could connect to a mobile phone which would then upload my results on a daily basis to the NHS. Bluetooth + Wi-FI = Result.
A few weeks in I had a call from the clinic to discuss progress and we proved that the reporting system worked when the nurse logged into my sleep data and we could discuss what was happening – and of course, I could see it on my phone at the same time.
As the discussion came to an end I asked the nurse how big a change this had been for her and her team. She was so positive and was really excited at the progress they had made, the changes they had made and the results they were achieving. And all so quickly. It was genuinely encouraging.
And then it broke: I received a letter! A letter sent to someone who was daily and automatically communicating with the NHS by mobile phone. They know my number, they know we connect, but this part of the process had not been put under the microscope for change.
It is so sad to see that where there has been great progress (that genuinely excited those involved) it was all too easy to slip back to the old ways. I think there’s a lesson for leaders here to ensure that we do not let change regress to the familiar way of working.