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COVID-19 has transformed healthcare and social services. Now, healthcare professionals are seeking to better utilize limited resources and manage care backlogs. They are also looking to work in multi-disciplinary teams, breaking down siloes to better coordinate care. Check out Microsoft for Public Health and Social Services to see how health and care providers are using new and innovative ways of working to enable better outcomes for citizens. Here are three ways technology can foster connected care in a post-COVID-19 world.

1. Help prevent escalating care needs

Prevention is a prominent theme in many health and social care plans. Data and AI can help manage demand and help patients avoid escalation of their care needs. In addition, some care providers like Kendal Care Homes are using mixed reality to better enable in-home care. Let’s say Elena is bed-ridden and has skin conditions such as leg swelling and rashes. Elena’s doctor can remotely work together with the home nurse to assist and treat Elena, seeing remotely what the nurse sees and virtually mixing in a view Elena’s medical information. Elena’s doctor can ask her questions about her health, offer a diagnosis, and advise the home nurse on effective treatment. Elena and her care providers can speak with her doctor in real time, while the care provider is able to maintain its strict pandemic safety measures.

Home caregiver helping senior woman with medication

In the very near future, the virtual worlds offered by the metaverse will open a range of possibilities and experiences. The metaverse represents a convergence of the physical and digital worlds. As these spaces come together, they create new opportunities. For example, Elena’s doctors will be able to collaborate with specialists around the world and remotely assist in online 3D training. The metaverse will allow a virtual space to establish relationships among patients, students, volunteers, and professionals.

2. Add capacity for front-line services

Governments face high demand for services. How do they find the time to focus on what matters most to residents? Technology can help, and with tools like low-code and no-code apps, it’s easier to use than ever before. Microsoft has helped health and social care providers leverage technology to streamline clinical models. Applications that would have taken months to build using custom code were put into production in a matter of weeks. For example, the Surrey and Borders Partnership (SABP) NHS Foundation Trust quickly developed a bespoke app for managing staff flu vaccinations. The solution includes two versions of a Microsoft Power Apps application: one for clinicians to manage walk-in vaccinations, and another for employees to book appointments. Both versions replaced the traditional—and far less efficient—paper-based processes used for many years. The employee app offered the additional benefit of providing access to a wealth of information about the vaccinations to further enable empowered decision-making. 

“Having more informed staff significantly contributed to a better uptake of the vaccination, which our workforce could monitor in real time through an integrated Power BI dashboard. After deploying our Power Apps solution, we saw vaccination rates for frontline staff soar from less than 50 percent to more than 90 percent.”—Sarah McFarlane, Policy Coordinator at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

3. Enable coordinated care

People often need to engage with multiple health and care providers. It can be daunting to navigate this virtual address book and know who to contact and when. Bristol City Council has leveraged technology to provide a single view of the resident. For instance, Melanie is a busy social worker who has received a referral for concern about a child. Through technology, she can now see a holistic picture of the child and understand what other teams or agencies are involved with that family. Melanie is now empowered to make an informed assessment of how serious those concerns are, and how best to coordinate care.

Child holding mother's hand

Conclusion

Many health and care providers are leveraging technology to better respond to global crises. At Microsoft, we recognize the value of technology to enable person-centered care through more efficient systems, faster solutions, and a more dynamic way to get support. The responsible use of data and technology can help us meet the challenges exacerbated by COVID-19. This will create opportunities for the safety, wellness, and prosperity of communities around the globe. Find out how Microsoft can help empower your services today. 

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