A problem shared: collaborative PGME the key to a futureproof NHS workforce
As the NHS turns 70, pressure on its workforce continues to grow and is an issue that is increasingly being recognised by Health Education England (HEE) as part of current NHS policy. This is demonstrated in the latest HEE workforce consultation paper, which repeatedly emphasises that developing, improving and transforming the workforce ‘requires collaboration between organisations’. If the NHS is to futureproof its workforce and ensure all its staff are appropriately trained and developed to deliver high quality care, PGME teams need to think differently and act differently. So how can trusts help PGME departments drive excellence in the training and development of the NHS workforce?
Pressure on PGME
The current demands on trust administration and PGME departments are significant. At the base level, trusts need to ensure they have the right level of appropriately trained staff capable of delivering patient care to the expected standards – now and in the future. Alongside this, they must effectively administer all the ongoing needs of their workforce; induction, time and attendance, scheduling, leave administration, quality visits, statutory training and much more. It’s a crucial role, central to effective workforce planning.
However, the function has traditionally operated in isolation, its work typically underpinned by software and tools that are separate from other IT systems used in hospitals. In many trusts, workforce data has typically been captured and managed via spreadsheet, presenting risks that include data errors, duplication and time-consuming paper-based processes – and obvious operational limitations caused by a lack of data visibility.
Optimising NHS data
There is now widespread recognition that better use of data can drive informed decision-making. Updated technical guidance for workforce planning 2018/19 mandates trusts to use data to inform staffing demand forecasts, workforce KPIs and PGME. For the latter, HEE also requires detailed information on the number of consultants and other staff in medical specialties in order to balance investment between current service needs and the future workforce. Its new template asks for the number of foundation trainees (Y1 & Y2), the number of consultants (in post and required), and the number of doctors in training.
In addition, there are plans to go much further in terms of workforce optimisation. For example, the consultation exercise for the health and care workforce strategy explicitly asks what additional data is required to ensure the NHS can plan effectively and align workforce, finance and service planning.
Using current methodology, many NHS trusts will struggle to provide the sophisticated data and analytics required to transform workforce planning. Fortunately, technology solutions are available that can support all aspects of workforce planning, today.
A centralised and collaborative solution
In the crucial world of PGME, simple and familiar web-based tools not only exist, they’re increasingly being adopted by trusts to drive necessary changes to traditional processes. The most progressive are leveraging centralised platforms that provide visibility and access to data across all aspects of the workforce life-cycle; recruitment, training, development and management.
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These intuitive, centralised tools are improving data accuracy, productivity and workflow processes – and freeing up PGME teams to focus on delivering high-quality learning experiences for their trainees. Moreover, with new EU data protection regulations (GDPR) poised to take effect imminently, use of digital solutions is helping trusts eradicate the Information Governance risk posed by traditional spreadsheet methods / usage.
The increased adoption of centralised workforce management solutions will undoubtedly enable trusts to become better-placed to optimise collected data – fuelling real-time and predictive analytics to support operational planning, staffing forecasts and the attainment of wide-ranging workforce KPIs.
Furthermore, because web-based tools allow secure access to all authorised users irrespective of their location, the solutions pave the way for greater collaboration within organisations and among PGME communities across regions. At a time when the NHS is under the national microscope, centralised tools have the potential to break down the silos that have previously cocooned PGME and help multiple trusts share infrastructure, processes and best practice.
The good news is that such collaboration is not just an ideology – it’s actually beginning to take shape. A great example of this can be seen in London where 15 trusts – including influential organisations like Barts, King’s College and Imperial – now use a single, centralised system to manage all aspects of PGME.
The trusts have shared the cost of the deployment, yielding significant cost-savings. However, the efficiency and operational gains enabled by multi-trust collaboration are arguably of even greater value. Whilst each trust has been able to customise the solution to suit their own individual needs, they’re also able to share processes, intelligence and best practice as they tackle the challenges set by HEE. What’s more, the system – a genuine partnership – is giving PMGE departments at London Trusts a unified voice back to the Local HEE team.
The approach, powered by simple technology and the willingness of all PGME stakeholders to collaborate, is perfectly aligned with the kind of multi-trust collaboration advocated in the draft workforce strategy, the Single Department Plan and the NHS Five Year Forward View. The London experience provides a strong indication that it can work.
A problem shared
As the NHS approaches 70 and the real-world demands on it continue to mount, historic ways of working are no longer enough. If they’re to meet their goals and deliver an NHS workforce fit for the future, PGME departments may need to help each other to help themselves. Technology can – and indeed must – play its part.
How can the healthcare industry build trust with consumers?
One of the many ways the pandemic has impacted society is that it has firmly cast the healthcare industry in the public spotlight. From producing ventilators and PPE to developing life-saving vaccines, consumers have looked to pharmaceutical and healthcare companies to keep us safe and find a way out of the Covid-19 crisis.
As a result, healthcare companies have an opportunity to build upon this and utilise their marketing to drive greater engagement and trust with consumers. When it comes to effective marketing, it’s vital to remember the important role which visuals play. Consumers increasingly engage with brands through the visual communications and storytelling they absorb while online or browsing through media channels. These visual communications can have a huge impact not only on consumer purchasing decisions but also the relationship between brands and customers.
At Getty Images, we work with healthcare companies throughout Europe to advise them on their visual content. This study forms part of the research for our insight platform Visual GPS, which looks at the key factors affecting consumer decision making and how that impacts their visual choices.
In partnership with YouGov, we surveyed 10,000 consumers globally and have been tracking this consumer sentiment for the past two years. This latest deep-dive into the healthcare industry is part of our wider on-going research, and aims to better understand how consumers in different regions are interacting with the healthcare sector and what motivates their visual preferences.
Our research revealed that many companies are not using visuals as effectively as they could. In the UK, for instance, the vast majority of consumers do not feel represented by the visual communications which businesses are producing – only 7% of British respondents to our global Visual GPS survey say they felt represented. That is even lower than the global average of 14%.
This latest deep dive into the healthcare industry has uncovered some important insights that can help us better understand how consumers in different regions are interacting with the healthcare sector.
Mental health should be centre stage
A key finding shows that mental health remains a highly relevant issue for consumers. Over nine in ten British consumers think it is important to talk about mental health and put it on an equal footing with physical and emotional health. Not surprisingly, 55% of British consumers believe that more people are being diagnosed with depression due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is a growing awareness of the importance of mental health across Europe. Health and pharmaceutical companies should acknowledge this in their visual communications but do so in an empathetic and compassionate way. Only five years ago, visuals around mental health often depicted people alone, isolated and expressing feelings of shame, whereas now we are seeing a more empathetic and supportive approach to visualising mental health - with an increasing number of positive visuals showing support groups, or individuals proactively seeking and finding support.
Visual communications that show support for mental well-being in a meaningful way will resonate deeply with consumers.
A more holistic approach
Another key finding is that consumers want to focus more on holistic health. Our survey found that the majority of UK consumers place an almost equal importance on emotional, physical and mental health, and almost three quarters (73%) placed the health and well-being of family as a top priority.
It’s important that healthcare companies reflect this. Our research paired with ongoing image testing revealed that consumers want to see visuals that humanise healthcare, so companies should consider visualising inclusive care across intersecting factors such as age, ethnicity and gender. Brands can help establish trust with their customers by highlighting a collaborative relationship between medical professional and patient, as well as ensuring that their visual choices feel genuine.
Technology and innovation in healthcare are gaining traction
Thirdly, eHealth and purposeful innovation was another key finding. Consumers want innovation that will meaningfully support their care. Particularly in Europe, the older generation will pay more for brands that use technology to provide advice and recommendations, while Gen Z & Millennials are willing to pay for self-service capabilities. It’s important therefore for healthcare companies to incorporate purposeful innovation in their visual communication and demonstrate consumers at the centre of accessible eHealth.
Given these insights, what visual content do consumers expect to see from pharmaceutical brands? Our research highlighted three key themes.
- Consumers want to see how healthcare companies fit into people’s lives. Accessible health services are a key factor here. Decision makers should build trust by showing consumers at the centre of a holistic healthcare ecosystem.
- Consumers want to see the emotional rewards others get from using a healthcare company. This can be achieved by building brand loyalty through empathetic and inclusive visual storytelling.
- Finally, consumers want to see people who are similar to them and their lives. British consumers want to see people that look like them and reflect their lived experiences in advertising and brand communication. Decision-makers should ensure that their visual communication is inclusive and authentic and represents the diverse population of the market in which they’re operating.
Ultimately, the key to successful visual storytelling for pharma and healthcare businesses is to ensure that they understand what matters to their audience while establishing trust of care. An important element of this is authentically representing the full spectrum of the population. That means representing all ethnicities, ages, abilities, body shapes, sexuality, religion and genders, to ensure patients of all backgrounds feel included and represented.
Healthcare brands should bear in mind that, as a result of the pandemic’s impact on healthcare systems around the world, consumers may be feeling anxious about whether they will be able to access care if they need it. The healthcare industry has an opportunity to reassure customers and build greater engagement and trust by showing them that they matter through inclusive visuals that represents them authentically at the heart of brand storytelling.