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4ways COVID-19 Response Update (October 2021)

4ways Covid-19 Update

4th October 2021

As we have continued to adapt our working practices to deal with the ever-changing situation of the global pandemic, following the relaxation of restrictions over the summer, we now face the inevitable winter pressures, alongside Covid-19 and the recovery of elective care and reducing wait lists/times.  We therefore wanted to once again, update you on how 4ways continues to manage the business based on these new developments.

4ways has continued to support urgent reporting services to the NHS, supporting swift patient flow through Emergency Departments, inpatient care, and appropriate decisions on treatment to move patients through their care pathways in a timely fashion. 

Providing our Urgent Reporting services around the clock has provided our clients with an ever-present support, not only for the most acute scans, but also to manage outpatient reporting ahead of appointments, support of reporting ahead of MDT with oncology and life threatening conditions taking the priority in tackling the waiting list, and to assist with inpatient reporting in support of bed and occupancy management

Where the NHS also works to manage both Covid-19 and the recovery of routine elective, 4ways continue to support, ensuring swift timely reporting to assist around the clock in addressing waiting lists and increased wait times. 

In a summer of unprecedented volumes, with demand well in excess of activity seen in past pre-covid years, 4ways have worked collaboratively with our clients and Radiologists supporting capacity constraints around annual leaves, sickness and Covid-19 isolations.

Throughout this time, we have always acted and continue to act flexibly with a view of preparedness ensuring a safe, measured, and proportional response. Our actions have continued to strengthen the resilience and robustness of our core reporting infrastructure enabling our teleradiologists, supported by our IT and technical and operational support teams, to provide a first-class service against a backdrop ever increasing demand in all specialities.

We fully appreciate your planning around safety measures combined with the need to address routine elective volumes and manage Covid-19 cases. 4ways stands ready to support any reporting requirements across all our routine, specialist, super specialist and urgent services

With the Department of Health and Social Care’s UK Health Security Agency now announcing a relaxation of infection control rules, this will enable an increase in activity and scanning throughput. Again, 4ways has continued to increase our reporting panel and operational resources to ensure we are well positioned to support our clients and the wider NHS and of course, the patients they serve.

In line with Government guidelines, we continue to ensure our offices remain a safe place for our staff work safely in line with government health and safety regulations and guidance. This allows us to remain robust to meet client requirements and in support of our panel of Radiologists delivering the highest levels of clinical reporting.

What we have done to support Covid-19 & Elective Recovery

NHS Client Support

Free of charge use of 4ways platform during the peak of the first wave of Covid-19 cases for our NHS clients allowing their Radiologists to report Covid-19 Trust activity from home on 4ways systems.

During this time, 4ways has also provided our expert in-house operational support in administering to this activity through our systems and processes, also free of charge.

Dedicated Covid-19 reporting within our urgent services and adoption of BTSI reporting templates to reflect national guidance and standards.

4ways continues to report an increasing proportion of chest scans in both our Routine and Urgent services, providing reporting to manage Covid follow ups and winter respiratory illnesses

Radiologists Support

Free of charge use of 4ways Diagnostic Monitors on Trust equipment

We have continued to provide our Radiologist panel with regular updates and learning communications to ensure the latest guidance and safety information is available to the and applied to their reporting.

Piloting of AI/Decision Support software, providing a safety net to our Urgent reporters when reviewing the most acute scans.

Essential Service Provider

4ways remain designated as an “Essential Service for the Provision of Critical Care” under NHS England. This continues to provide our staff with the permissions they may still need to ensure they can maintain services and access winter vaccinations.

NHS England Collaboration

4ways has worked closely with NHS England’s Independent Sector (IS) Coordination Team which has allowed us to stand ready in wider support of the Covid effort and recovery. With the ongoing cases of Covid-19 infections and winter pressures, we remain well-positioned to support these efforts in the months ahead.

Clinical Focus

4ways Radiologists have access to the industry-leading diagnostic and educational support tool STATdx which includes specific modules for the reporting of Covid-19, along with a wide range of educational and supporting articles and modules across all diagnosis and imaging.

Our Clinical Leadership Team closely monitors developments and learning as the world continues to understand more about the virus, sharing all latest updates and knowledge with the panel to assist our teleradiologists to continue to deliver high quality and accurate reporting services to NHS Trusts and private hospitals and aid in the improvement of patient outcomes.

Radiologist’s Professional Development

4ways has maintained our internal feedback and learning activities to our Radiologists, providing online forums for the review of interesting cases, learning links and shared learning from audit cases.

What we are doing now

Technical Infrastructure

Throughout 2020 and into 2021, 4ways accelerated our IT maintenance schedules and upgrade projects, making our systems even more robust and future-proofed.  Our networks have migrated to HSCN and all Routine and Urgent reporting is now undertaken on the our upgraded IBM MERGE PACS, with efficiencies clearly evident.

Microsoft Teams was deployed throughout the company to allow ease of access to our clients where we are unable to meet you in person.  As restrictions have eased, whilst we do expect a return to some face to face meetings, which we very much look forward to, we know the world has moved on. Having the option of both remote and face to face engagement ensures we remain responsive and accessible to our clients at all times

Office365 across the company to support ease of working for our core staff onsite in our offices with a hybrid of working remotely from home ongoing. In doing so, our service delivery to our clients is seamless, regardless of location of our operatives.

We have implemented these and other actions to ensure our services are maintained and to provide robustness in supporting Covid-19, the recovery of routine elective care services and winter pressures.

With the success of the Covid-19 vaccination programme and the commencement of the booster programme, we are well prepared to assist with the inevitable increase in demand as the NHS and Healthcare providers begin to see the return of pent up demand and work to reduce waiting lists and wait times.

We are available to discuss taking on increased demand from existing and new clients across our full range of services; Day Time Urgent (DTU), Night-Time Urgent (NTU), Routine and Specialist.

At 4ways, we remain agile and flexible to support our clients across all services as we all continue to constantly adapt to the changing landscape we are faced with.

We believe our current model is robust and is a core part of clients’ Radiology Business Continuity and planning and is continually and flexibly adapting to support the NHS where it needs it the most.

We continue to monitor and will keep you up to date with any further developments.