Enhancing the UK and Ireland’s response to COVID-19 with evidence-based tools

By: Dr. Sam Shah, Global Digital Health Advisor, and Chris Collenette, Think Research Commercial Director UK & Europe

As hospitals across the NHS start to return to post-COVID-19 operations, their staff face a new set of challenges in these uncertain times.

First is ensuring that all healthcare services need to adapt their work practices to accommodate COVID-19 health and safety precautions. This change requires expert review of existing care pathways to ensure appropriate preventive best practices for COVID-19 are integrated.

Second is ensuring an optimised patient flow from primary care to acute care and back to the community to deal with the one-and-a-half year backlog that has built up over the past three months. Never has it been more important for patients to receive the right care at the right time in the right place.

Leading UK clinicians have noted in an open letter, published in the British Medical Journal, that urgent review is needed now to determine whether the UK is properly prepared for the “real risk” of a second wave of coronavirus. 

As a clinical content and digital healthcare company that’s expanding into the UK market, Think Research echoes this sentiment. 

To that end, we are working with a number of other clinical advisors who held top positions across the NHS and HSE. They include Dr Harpreet Sood, who served formerly as NHS England’s Associate Chief Clinical Information Officer and Dr Yvonne Smyth, who is currently a joint Cardiology & Acute Medicine consultant in University Hospital Galway and Clinical Co-Lead for the HSE’s Lead National Acute Medicine Programme.

We are calling on these national health services to engage in an expert review of their existing care pathways to ensure appropriate preventive best practices for COVID-19 are integrated across systems. There is room to improve as we face the looming reality of a second wave of infection, all while healthcare services are also reopening. It’s imperative that clinicians adapt their work practices now to accommodate COVID-19 health and safety precautions.

Since the beginning of this global pandemic, Think Research has seen an uptick in the use of evidence-based toolkits across its clinical network. Our COVID-19 tools continue to be downloaded and put into use on the front lines in great numbers. 

The results speak for themselves.

In the acute care setting, Dr. Chris O’Connor, Think Research’s founder and practicing ICU physician, notes that “the rate of knowledge change is growing rapidly and can be a challenge for physicians to apply to their patients at the bedside.” He adds, “the need for decision support tools that distill the research and evidence-based best practices into practical usable tools that improve physician efficiency, while also improving quality, is more important than ever given current demands.” 

Our partnership with Toronto’s Scarborough Health Network also led to the creation of a COVID-19 discharge order set that is helping to keep vulnerable patients from falling through the cracks when they return to the community after being released from hospital. 

Most importantly, our data shows that organizations are taking advantage of this added knowledge – looking at each other’s orders sets as a potential source of new information about how to most effectively implement the evidence in treating COVID-19.  That they are doing this during a time when everyone in clinical medicine is extremely busy reflects the value of this content as a resource for health care organizations.

Experts in the UK suggest the runway is short to assess the performance of health systems in the first wave of COVID-19 and make any necessary changes to handle a second wave. The time to act is now. 

For more information, visit https://www.thinkresearch.com/eu-en/.