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How Power Apps is Driving Digital Transformation in Healthcare

3 Mins read

How low-code technology is helping healthcare organisations respond to the demand for urgent medical care.

For healthcare teams, the fast and accurate processing of data is not just about efficiency, it’s about delivering better care and outcomes for patients. Many healthcare services though are struggling with disjointed processes that are either paper-based or managed with legacy systems. These ultimately slow clinical teams down and negatively impact patient care and treatment.

Of course, teams operating on the front line understand this better than anyone. So, health services across the UK are looking to digital solutions for smarter ways to optimise the use of time and resources. And low-code development platforms are playing an increasingly important role in that transformation.

As the name suggests, no-code and low-code solutions can be created using pre-built templates and simple drag-and-drop functionality. With Microsoft Power Platform, users can quickly create custom applications specific to their needs faster than ever before, and then deploy them safely on the frontline in a matter of weeks or even days.

The adoption of low-code technology has partly been spurred by an increasing shortage of developers across all industries. Low-code is about enabling everyone, no matter their background or experience, to harness technology—and be able to put it to use so they can be problem solvers

Aimee Wilde, healthcare lead at Microsoft, says that within the NHS and other health care services, most low-code solutions are being developed by ‘fusion teams’, a combination of professional developers and employees often referred to as ‘citizen developers’. This arrangement can often help reduce the demand and backlog on senior developers and IT professionals, enabling them to focus on more complex challenges.

The other great advantage of low development is speed. ‘You’re talking about getting from concept to solution to roll out in days and weeks versus months and years,’ says Wilde. “The initial assumption was that healthcare teams wouldn’t have the flexibility or appetite for this,” says Wilde, “but they really do.”

“We have seen so many examples where teams have started with a simple version of an app and as soon as they get user feedback, they have iterated and worked on the next release.”

As Wilde says, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only forced and accelerated that kind of innovation but it has alerted services and trusts to the real potential of these kinds of solutions.

Wilde says that the use of Power Apps to handle ‘sit-reps’ (situational reports) during the pandemic quickly established their worth. “NHS England really needed local information: reports from hospitals about the number of COVID-positive patients, ICU beds available, status of patients, availability of staff and more. These apps meant that this information could be easily collected and collated daily, and staff would receive notifications to remind them when information was needed.

“And there are so many other examples where we received a request for a solution and the app was then live within a week. That really helped in terms of the emergency response. And it also addressed a lot of the risk-aversion and hesitancy that healthcare professionals might have had about replacing traditional methods with low-code development.”

The Power Platform is now being used to address challenges beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Paramedics attending to people who have had a stroke need to quickly assess their patient’s condition and refer them to the right specialist unit. In the past, this has meant time-consuming form-filling. Digitalising and automating as much of this process as possible saves time and can save lives. Microsoft worked with Akari Solutions to develop a power app for a specialist stroke unit to take on just that challenge.

For Wilde, low-code platforms are—and will increasingly be—central to the digital transformation of health services. They’re already having a big impact on patient experience and patient outcomes, as well as operational outcomes, cost saving, clinical experience and more. “If you ask an NHS doctor or junior doctor what their number one issue is, most of them will say admin,” says Wilde. “If low and no-code development can reduce that by even 10 per cent, that means more time with patients. And that will have a huge impact within healthcare services.”

Source: wired.co.uk

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