Managing the backlog of care

Two years into the pandemic, governments worldwide have began to loosen up their social distancing insurance policies. Nevertheless, healthcare programs proceed to be severely impacted by ongoing infections and a rising backlog of sufferers ready for deliberate remedies.

Whereas vaccines have been extraordinarily profitable in lowering hospitalization and mortality charges, an infection management insurance policies proceed to have an effect on our hospitals’ common operations. In lots of respects, COVID-19 created an ideal storm. It got here at a time when many healthcare programs had been already severely confused, coping with an rising burden of illness inside getting old populations, and power employees shortages.

The pandemic suspended most non-urgent, elective procedures and ambulatory care; consequently, the care backlog elevated. In England alone, 6 million individuals had been ready for remedy on the finish of December 2021. It’s estimated that 8 million individuals have undiagnosed situations, and these are the individuals who stayed away from their healthcare suppliers for concern of catching COVID-19.1 The state of affairs is comparable throughout Europe and North America, with the Group for Financial Co-operation and Improvement (OECD) reporting vital numbers of individuals with long-term situations lacking important features of their care.2

Supply: Group for Financial Co-operation and Improvement

They are saying, “necessity is the mom of innovation,” which was clearly the case through the pandemic. Fast growth of vaccines, novel use of medicines to deal with contaminated sufferers, and monumental acceleration of digital care paint an image of innovation. Publish-pandemic, some commentators are suggesting this innovation ought to proceed with the restoration, giving nations a novel alternative to alter issues for the higher, addressing well being inequalities, and rising sustainability.3

From a know-how perspective, healthcare suppliers can make the most of the teachings realized all through the pandemic. They’ll implement new methods to speed up the circulation of sufferers from their backlog into remedy after which onto a swift discharge and rehabilitation.

At every stage of this journey, retaining in common contact with the affected person will probably be essential to the success of your complete course of. In some ways, the operational complexity of managing backlogs, scientific capability, and employees schedules echoes the complexity and interdependencies of the underlying technical infrastructure. Maintaining sufferers shortly flowing via the system requires every cog in that system to work flawlessly, always.

Adopting a cross-architectural view of their IT infrastructure and a platform strategy will allow healthcare suppliers to speed up their digital capabilities, automate patient outreach through technology and self-service, and improve the circulation of sufferers via the care continuum.4

From a affected person’s perspective, healthcare suppliers must be deploying digital options that may:

  • Make the most of the time earlier than remedy to coach and inform sufferers about their situation5
  • Monitor modifications in circumstance that will alter the precedence or remedy pathway
  • Collect pre-operative data and put together sufferers for admission
  • Streamline the journey via the hospital by monitoring individuals and belongings
  • Cut back in-patient stays by enabling sufferers to go house as quickly as they’re medically match
  • Forestall pointless readmission by offering post-acute distant care or monitoring
  • Observe every stage of the digital journey to make sure it’s assembly expectations

In the end, the variety of sufferers ready for remedy will normalize when care groups have the capability to deal with them. Whereas automated processes and synthetic intelligence increase the talents of a healthcare skilled, they are going to by no means change the human contact. To handle the workforce challenges, healthcare suppliers might want to reimagine scientific operations and undertake technology-driven processes that improve effectivity. This may reduce the burden on scientific employees and preserve individuals throughout the healthcare occupation.

Fast innovation was commonplace on the peak of the pandemic, with virtual care turning into the norm. Though the direct impression of the pandemic on society is now waning, there are extra individuals ready for remedy now than ever earlier than. To handle this backlog, healthcare suppliers should proceed innovating, increasing their digital gives by investing of their underlying technical infrastructure, adopting a cross architectural strategy, and guaranteeing that their digital options present a frictionless expertise to sufferers and employees.


  1. NHS backlog & waiting times in England
  2. Rising from the COVID 19 crisis: Policy responses in the long-term care sector
  3. WHO Manifesto for a healthy recovery from COVID-19
  4. The platform play: How to operate like a tech company
  5. NHS Wait Well program