The pressures on public health systems is well lamented in the press. No matter where we look, especially around Europe, governments are facing difficult decisions on spending the public health budget. The fact is the population in Northern Europe is steadily growing, people are getting better at looking after themselves, and we are living longer. The long promoted formula for a healthier lifestyle has resulted in healthcare providers having to adapt to meet the demand on services that will enable this formula. The services citizens expect from their health system go beyond the acute care you would expect from a hospital – diet and weight control, smoking cessation, management of long term conditions, and so on.
But what about mental health? A report from CentreForum has found one in 10 young people in the UK has a mental health problem. That equates to 720,000 children between the ages of 5 and 16. To make matters worse, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) seems to be severely underfunded, receiving only 0.7% of the healthcare budget. That’s about £704M (€885M or $997M).
The frightening fact that stands out is that about 23% of children are turned away that are referred for therapy.
How can we improve this situation? One way is to delivery as much of the service our children and young adults need in the way they are used to – via their own device on whatever network they have access to.
Millennials and even younger generations are very used to accessing what information they need online. It often involves a personal device and they use their own smartphones, tablets or PCs to get what they want – fast. The fact is, our society has become used to getting information quickly thanks to broadband, mobile and wifi networks. And the same goes for services. So it seems antiquated and even in some areas inequitable to restrict a crucial service such as adolescent mental health without considering a virtual approach.
A large proportion of therapy can be delivered to a young adult in a secure, high quality way. Using a virtual approach to provide therapy has a number of benefits that will greatly enhance the service too. Convenience for the client (the service user) is a huge benefit. Take this as an example; for a young person to leave school or college to travel to an appointment during the day causes great disruption. It's inconvenient and could be costly; not everyone lives in a metropolitan area. There could also be a perceived stigma attached to walking into a clinic. ‘What if someone sees me?’ ‘What if I bump into someone I know and they talk about me?’ What might seem trivial to an adult could have devastating side effects for a young person.
Then there is the matter of high non-attendance or did not show (DNS) rates. Not only does failure to show for an appointment mean wasted time for the therapist (they could have been treating someone else), it also creates an inefficiency and a cost is borne.
I acknowledge not all aspects of CAHMS or Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) can be delivered in a virtual way. But for a majority of one to one sessions, it is far more efficient. A therapist who might normally travel to multiple locations, sometimes great distances apart, to see two or three clients in a day, can use that time to talk to double the number. I hesitate to use the phrase call-centre, but taking this approach can help tackle the 23% of children turned away, mentioned in the report.
The therapists working with our children and young adults do a fantastic job, often in difficult conditions. They are known as the Cinderella Service in the UK NHS because of the low budget they receive. Sharing the therapist expertise and giving them the tools to reach more of those in need will undoubtedly help to intervene earlier.
If you are interested in seeing how Polycom can help provide improved access to talking therapies, especially for children and young adults, please do get in touch with me. I will be only too happy to talk.
What’s on your hit list right now for the Central and Eastern Europe?
My primary focus is to ensure we are reaching out to new customers and partners as well continue to help the existing ones. We are challenging ourselves a little more this year and we are ready to put in the hard work to implement the strategy that we call ‘net new’ to meet our objectives. We are focusing on helping customers and partners truly understand the business value of Polycom solutions by thoroughly investigating their business objectives and requirements. This will enable us to understand what they really need and how Polycom can help them achieve that.
We are exhibiting a range of new solutions during the annual international conference CeBIT** in Hannover, Germany, on 14-18 March 2016 at stand C57 and C58 in Hall 13 together with partners ALLNET and Microsoft. For the first time we are able to offer to our customers a depth of new solutions, regardless of business size, sector or budget, and we can demonstrate many of our new solutions at the show. Our relationship with Microsoft is at its strongest and remains a critical part of our strategy in EMEA. It’s a key differentiator for us in attracting new customers and expanding our partner base hence our continued development of solutions for this market, such as being the first to market with our Polycom® VVX® Business Media Phones voice solutions for Microsoft’s Office 365 Cloud PBX. This solution is also available for demonstrations at CeBIT.
What are you seeing in the Central and Eastern European market, and how are you capitalising on these opportunities?
There are continued signs of growth in our market as businesses have started investing in technology again, and high on their agendas is how they can make their workplace a better environment for employees and customers to collaborate together. We have started working even more closely with our customers and partners to identify what they are looking for. Interest in room-based systems has wavered over the last couple of years due to several contributing factors, such as increase in mobility, mobile and tablet device usage, flexible working and remote working. We are now starting to see these room systems become more popular again, in particular ‘huddle room’ solutions. Our new centre of the room solutions, such as the Polycom® RealPresence Trio™ and RealPresence Centro™ can perfectly cater for this demand.
In addition, specifically in Germany, there is an untapped potential in the Mittelstand or the middle sector where flexible working is already on the rise. Generally speaking, across the German market, at least 30% of the middle sector companies are found to be encouraging their employees to work from anywhere, on any device. This figure, according to a new research, is higher than the global average of 29%.
In order to benefit from these new trends, we have made further investments in the business, including several new hires across Central and Eastern Europe to strengthen our presence in the region.
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** Polycom is exhibiting at CeBIT stand C57 and C58 in Hall 13 with partners ALLNET and Microsoft on 14-18 March 2016 in Hannover, Germany. Polycom's CeBIT 2016 social media competition #ShowMeTrio requires the CeBIT attendees to drop-by at Polycom's stand located at the venue and register for the competition. Terms and conditions apply. More details are available on request and here: https://bit.ly/1pbOaDW