Virtual Care

Virtual Care

How Does Virtual Care Improve Healthcare Delivery?

Whilst the world moves on from Covid-19, what is clear is that its impact on global healthcare provision will be felt for many years to come. Despite startling waiting list figures from the NHS, however, it is also useful to note how quickly the health service has adapted its service and delivery in order to cope with the pandemic and its aftermath. This is thanks, in large part, to their rapid adoption of a technology which was waiting to happen – virtual care.

As is often the case, what started out as a necessity, is fast becoming a source of innovation and creativity for the NHS:

  • Image sharing technology is now used by geographically remote clinicians to share their specialist knowledge when dealing with difficult patient cases.
  • NHS England is launching the virtual wards programme to support patients who would otherwise be in hospital to receive acute care, monitoring, and treatment remotely.
  • Ambulances caught up in a queueing system are being adapted as mobile A&E facilities, as paramedics are now able to access critical care expertise instantly.
  • The reduction of travelling to and from surgeries and hospitals is being seen as a significant cut in carbon emissions as the NHS continues to work towards Net Zero.

Are Patients Ready for an Expansion of Virtual Care?

“I feel that as long as face to face consultations can still take place where needed and necessary, a virtual health service would be beneficial for both patients and doctors.”

– UK NHS patient

Patients too have been adapting to a new healthcare landscape over the past two years. For the majority, virtual care has allowed them to maintain contact with a GP throughout lockdown periods and continues to alleviate pressures on GP surgeries as they deal with the post-Covid backlog.

However, the move to a more comprehensively remote experience of healthcare has still to be trialled at scale. Where remote pathways have already been trialled, there is optimism that they can be scaled successfully:

“We’ve put in place a maternity pathway onto our covid pathway; we’ve tried it with COPD patients; we have established a really successful asthma pathway.”

“We’ve had about 300 asthma patients onboarded onto that pathway, allowing them to be either not admitted or discharged early. And by doing that we’ve cut our asthma bed days by at least 30 per cent.”

Fiona McCann, respiratory consultant and clinical lead for respiratory medicine.

Doccla UK provides the monitoring technology patients use in their own homes, and the online dashboard which allows clinicians to monitor their virtual patients. Clinicians working in this way note that the system allows them to respond quickly to patients should there be a need. And patients will most likely appreciate a reduction in the number of face-to-face appointments necessary for their care.

“I feel like half my life is either making or rescheduling appointment due to a chronic illness, so a virtual system would make my life a lot easier. The changes so far have been massively better and virtualising makes it more accessible and it saves time and money. It stops me having to drive for 2 hours for a 15m appointment and then take time out of my working day.”

– UK NHS patient

Preparing for a Healthcare Transformation

There is widespread awareness in the UK, amongst HCPs and NHS users, that the old model of the healthcare system is no longer fit for purpose. The scaling of virtual care could alleviate the scarcity of hospital beds, improve care for chronically ill patients, and enhance services for patients who cannot easily attend in-person appointments. There are, however, a number of important considerations.

The Role That Medical Market Research Has to Play

As health systems move online patients’ ability to adopt new technologies, and accept their efficacy, will be key. In the past LDA Research has helped to test medical devices, and convened focus groups for patients to discuss specific medical treatments. The feedback this kind of qualitative research produces is likely to provide important information for design and deployment of virtual software.


About LDA Research

LDA Research was set up by Lucy Doorbar in 2011. LDA’s core team of researchers and moderators works with a global network of trusted associates. We provide quantitative research for medical and pharmaceutical clients, medical comms agencies, health market research agencies, management consultants and advertising agencies.


If you’re interested in working with LDA Research, give us a call to find out more about what we do – 01525 861436

What Does the Health & Care Act Mean for General Practice?

What Does the Health & Care Act Mean for General Practice?

The organisation of the NHS is changing in July 2022 as a result of the government’s Health and Care Act which received Royal Assent back in April. The published aims of the Act are to help the NHS to recover from the Covid pandemic, to reduce the backlog, and to create a new, more joined-up model for health and social care for the future.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown what can be achieved when we work together across NHS teams, organisations and systems with our partners in the care sector and beyond, and these reforms will help us to deliver for patients and their families.”

Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive


What Organisational Changes Does the Act Introduce?

The key change for the NHS is the replacement of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) with statutory Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). This formalises a shift towards collaboration between service providers across a geographical area. The NHS, alongside a range of partners, will work together “to develop a plan to address the broader health, public health, and social care needs of the population”.

The overarching aim of this organisational reform is to overcome historical divisions between local councils, health and social care, GPs, hospitals, physical and mental health, in order to better serve the people seeking to access medical care. When we asked GPs what they thought of the changes, they were broadly supportive:

“I think one of the most significant benefits would be more effective communication between the different organisations and health and care teams involved which would lead to improved patient care, population health and reduction in health inequalities. Also having one integrated system for documentation, patient record and keeping patients healthy in the community and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions. Understanding the needs of the community and adapting services to those care needs.”

GP

How Will ICSs Impact the Work of GPs?

General practice has the potential to be one of the most sharply impacted sectors as these reforms come into play. CCGs recognised the key role played by GPs in their communities and ensured them a significant role in system-wide decision making, whereas the Integrated Care Board (ICB) requires only one GP to be appointed for the whole geographical area. GPs we spoke to had concerns about this limited representation:

“Loss of local GP voice and influence. Our local CCG had around 8 GPs on the governing body, the new ICB structure replacing it has only 2 GPs, other providers are being represented with equivalent or greater voting rights to GPs despite not having as much involvement in patient care.”

GP

“I believe it risks destabilising primary care which is already suffering with the lack of GP workforce and recruitment crisis”

GP

What Can GPs Do To Ensure Their Voice is Heard?

GPs are keenly aware that their voice is now one amongst many; a genuine desire on everyone’s part, to work in a unified way for the best interests of patients is therefore, paramount. Two ‘schools of thought’ are emerging about the ways in which general practice can amplify its voice in these discussions:

  1. Relieve Pressure on Acute Care. Taking on some of the work that hospitals currently manage (outpatient and minor procedures) would increase the relevance of general practice within the wider system discussion.
  2. Generate New Ideas. GPs recognise themselves to be proactive partners in the process of change, offering strategies and ideas that make them integral to the development of unified delivery.

“ I feel there should be more involvement of practising GPs in the ICS infrastructure to help shape the delivery of care. It would be good to hear about the opportunities available to GPs to get involved as well.”

GP

A Pivotal Moment For Healthcare

Across the UK, healthcare is still struggling to manage the enormous backlog left in the wake of the pandemic. The task of the new ICSs is twofold therefore: tackling waiting lists and addressing prevention. This pivotal moment has been described as shaping healthcare for the next generation. General practice will need to adapt as part of the change, but there can be no doubting its importance in NHS evolution.


Working With LDA Research

LDA Research provides global medical market research for the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. Created by Lucy Doorbar in 2011, we offer clients dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associates. The LDA team are your eyes and ears wherever you need us to be.


Would you like to speak to a member of the LDA Research team about working with us? Call us today on 01525 861436.

The Use of Ethnographic Studies in Medical Market Research

The Use of Ethnographic Studies in Medical Market Research

The Use of Ethnographic Studies in Medical Market Research

Behaviour is slippery. What we say we do is not always what we actually do, whether we’re talking about diet, exercise, or healthcare practices. It’s not that we’re lying; it’s simply that we tend to shift our responses to please the person who’s asking, or we simply forget, or we’re too embarrassed to explain the truth of the matter.

The use of ethnographic studies in medical market research is an attempt to overcome the behavioural blind spots that can occur when using surveys, or interviews which require subjects to answer questions about their behaviour. Ethnographic research recognises that behaviour can only be understood when it is observed, within the context in which it occurs.


What is Ethnography?

Consider someone who has recently been diagnosed with COPD. They have been issued with an inhaler and told to try it out to see how they get on with it. In an interview situation, they may report that they’re taking the medication regularly and that it’s having a positive effect on their health.

An ethnographic study may take the form of a home video diary and a series of interviews. This data, collected in a familiar environment, may expose ‘inconsistent truths’ about the way the medication is taken, and its effects. Perhaps the way the inhaler is being used is problematic, or use is sporadic. Maybe the user is still coming to terms with the diagnosis and can’t bring themselves to admit to their family that they need an inhaler.

The Uses of Ethnography Qualitative Research

Ethnographic studies are being used successfully in medical device design, patient experience studies, and in modelling the active engagement of patients in their own healthcare. Ethnography provides a detailed understanding of:

  • The ways in which patients respond to diagnosis of a condition.
  • How people engage with medical devices.
  • The degree to which medical devices enhance users’ health and wellbeing.
  • The role families, caregivers and doctors play in the way a patient takes responsibility for their own health.

The Relationship Between Patient and Doctor is Changing

Ethnography is particularly important as a methodology at moments where a culture is changing. Across much of the globe the patient is no longer a passive recipient of ‘medical cures’ administered by doctors. Digital access to information has shifted this relationship. The patient can now assert their individual needs by requesting an alternative treatment to that prescribed to them, for example, and provide research to back up their request.

As a result of greater patient engagement, medical device providers are now looking for a clearer understanding of the needs of patients. Understanding patient behaviour ethnographically allows for innovative design opportunities that can enhance the experience of users.

LDA Research and Ethnographic Studies

As a medical market research provider, ethnography has always been important to the work of LDA Research. Prior to the pandemic this would largely take the form of written or audio diaries, or workshops involving role play, to access the day-to-day experiences of our participants.

Since Covid, however, the use of digital technologies in the home has been normalised to a far greater extent. Most of us are now used to Zoom or Teams meetings, and we use FaceTime to chat to friends, or for doctor’s appointments. There is now much less of a technological barrier to the use of video diaries, in fact many participants are far happier filming their lives rather than writing about them.

The use of video technology within the hospital environment is also changing. Clinicians increasingly use video for training, so filming procedures is now part of normal practice and is generally accepted. The life and culture of the hospital is also more accessible to the general public. Film crews are allowed access under strict guidelines; for example, surgeons at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Royal Papworth Hospital were filmed performing operations for a documentary aired on BBC2 in November 2021.

LDA Research is increasingly using a range of ethnographic methods for clients. Recent research for a wound care company, follows patients and surgeons through orthopaedic hip and knee surgery. This uses videos of the operation, as well as patient diaries, photos, blogs and follow up interviews.


About LDA Research

LDA was set up by Lucy Doorbar in 2011. We’re a small, core team working alongside a global network of trusted associates. We carry out quantitative research for medical and pharmaceutical clients, medical comms agencies, health market research agencies, management consultants and advertising agencies.


If you’re interested in using ethnographic studies as part of medical market research, give us a call to find out more about what we do – 01525 861436

Hot Topics in Radiology

Hot Topics in Radiology

Hot Topics in Radiology Medical Marketing Research

Radiology is not only a powerful diagnostic tool, it’s also an integral component in disease management. Through the use of X-rays, MRI, ultrasound or CT scans, healthcare professionals receive detailed data relating to bodily structure. This information allows for the early detection, prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment for diseases and injuries.

Radiology is key, therefore, to effective healthcare, which means that the medical market research team at LDA Research regularly gets to work on new developments in the field. It’s a specialist area that tends to attract high levels of investment, and the current hot topics in radiology we’re seeing are focused on increased accuracy, optimisation of workflow and service enhancement for patients.


Here are 3 radiology projects that LDA Research has worked on recently:

Extremity MRI Scanners (US)

Traditional full-body MRI machines require the patient to lie inside the equipment, very still, whilst radio waves and a strong magnetic field create detailed images of body tissue and internal structures. By contrast, extremity MRI scanners are designed to take images of  just the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, hands, or feet.

Radiologists are aware of the concerns some patients have when confronted with a full-body MRI machine; one of our respondents commented on the extremity scanner:

“Very nice. Looks comfortable. You know, having seen this, there may be a market for people have real bad claustrophobia.” – US Radiologist

Extremity scanners are designed to be used at free standing clinics, imaging centres and orthopaedic clinics. Once the smaller MRI machines were demonstrated to radiologists, many of them expressed a distinct interest in providing this kind of service to patients, particularly those who may have problems with using the larger machine.

Radiology AI Solutions (US & UK)

“AI seems to be coming in at all angles in my industry … I can only see the benefits … it seems to be when you look at the sort of mistakes or the misdiagnosis, human-wise, this I think takes a lot of that away, which is only an advantage.”US Radiologist

Radiology is particularly well suited to the implementation of AI tools. AI algorithms facilitate the automation of repetitive tasks, which streamlines the workflow and tends to be an attractive proposition for radiologists. There is also huge potential for use of AI in clinical applications such as the identification of sight-threatening eye-conditions at speed, or picking up abnormalities in a CT scan.

“I really think that this would help and mean that it would cut down on the radiologists’ work at night.  And also, you can still look at what the AI algorithms have come up with.  And I don’t think it will mean a lack of, a loss of skill with the doctors, cause we’re still looking at X-rays as well.”UK Radiologist

Integrated 3D Imaging (US & UK)

Advancements in 3D printing are now providing surgeons and cardiologists with the opportunity to use 3D models for the diagnosis and management of patients with congenital heart defects. 3D modelling offers a range of benefits, including the potential for improved surgical outcomes, increased procedural efficiency and a reduction in radiation exposure.

The NHS is currently using Heartflow Cardiac Testing for diagnosis and treatment of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). HeartFlow analysis offers a non-invasive cardiac test resulting in a colour-coded 3D model of the coronary arteries. This provides detailed information about constrictions and blockages, and their impact on the blood flow to the heart.


Working With LDA Research

LDA Research is a medical market research provider. Set up in 2011 by Lucy Doorbar, we specialise in providing global intelligence in the pharmaceutical industry and medical device sector. We have dedicated healthcare panels in the UK and US, as well as a network of international associates. The LDA team can be your eyes and ears wherever you need to be. From local culture to regulation and reimbursement, we can be relied upon to find the appropriate specialists for your requirements.


Would you like to speak to LDA Research about working with us? Call us today on 01525 861436.

Developing Sustainable Healthcare in the UK

Developing Sustainable Healthcare in the UK

A recent article in the Royal College of Surgeons Bulletin begins by reminding fellow surgeons that a single operation can produce “up to 814kg of CO2, the same as driving up to 2,273 miles in an average petrol car.”