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Facilitating the evolution of modern healthcare

From the operational management of hospitals to the optimisation of patient flow, Serco is committed to enabling better healthcare and improving patient outcomes.

With more than 20 years in healthcare, we provide services in hospitals across the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and in the Middle East. In addition to our international experience, we draw on our broader sector expertise in facilities management, service design, effective cleaning regimes, case management and digital technology/automation.

As Director of Serco’s Global Healthcare Centre of Excellence (CoE), Andrew Prince plays a critical role in defining and developing the Company’s healthcare capabilities and making that expertise available to our customers. For more than 15 years, he has focused on healthcare transformation and improvement, both as a consultant and service provider and as a Non-Executive Director for several National Health Service Trusts in the UK.

Andrew considers Serco the natural home for his personal commitment to helping facilitate the evolution of modern healthcare:

“Serco is very capable of doing good things for healthcare. Our experience in operational transformation, linked to a deep understanding of support services essential to clinical care, makes us unique. From our frontline to executive teams, we care about patient outcomes and take great pride in playing our part to the very best of our ability.”

The purpose of the CoE is to support the strategic development of the business by helping to build Serco’s resilience in the healthcare sector.

“The main way in which we do this is by developing competitive service propositions – strengthening existing ones and bringing fresh ideas to the table for new and enhanced propositions.”

A strong service proposition must balance viability for Serco and value for our customers:

“It all comes down to this: do they need it…and can we do it?”

The answers are not always obvious, especially in markets defined by rapid change:

“We focus on understanding the changing priorities and opportunities, consulting with our own service line experts as well as customers, peers and partners around the world – everyone that participates in the market in different ways. We then triangulate and work out what makes sense for our current and future customers, and Serco.”

Customer needs can become more pronounced and easier to identify in times of crisis:

“In the last year, healthcare providers around the world have experienced severe capacity issues. The challenge has been how to quickly free up existing capacity whilst creating additional capacity at speed. There are things we have been doing to assist across multiple regions, from helping to accelerate patient flow to developing a transferable approach for rapid deployment of temporary healthcare facilities.”

When circumstances allow, one way in which Andrew and his team test and demonstrate proposition value is through pilot projects:

“For example, we have several ‘internet of things’ pilots running at the moment, including one focused on reducing costs and infection risks through sensor-enabled water management.”

Once a concept is proven, the CoE engages with the business to develop it into a market-ready, ‘sellable’ service proposition.

Andrew acknowledges that the role of the CoE in Serco is primarily one of coordination, facilitation and helping to keep everything ‘joined up’:

“We strive to create connections and improve the flow of ideas around all the moving parts, both in and out of Serco. We find and bring everyone together to make something happen and then share the outcomes for everyone to benefit from.”

Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the evolution of healthcare service provision:

“It’s created a lot of turbulence. Every part of system has been dealing with Covid-19, one way or another. We’ve seen 15 years of innovation in the space of 15 months. Not all of it will stick, but some will, and some will get pushed even further in response to all the ripples and reverberations from the pandemic.”

One area so affected is ‘out of hospital’ healthcare:

“What we were already seeing was a shift of emphasis from bringing everyone into hospital to make them better to keeping them well and out of hospital. Ageing populations and a prevalence of long-term conditions – many of which can be managed more effectively out of hospital – are issues in every region where we operate. At the same time, technological advances have been enabling more and better care outside the hospital environment. This includes helping patients with sometimes multiple conditions to manage their own care more successfully and with confidence.

“With the impact of Covid-19, we saw issues that had been slowly building become crises overnight. There is an urgent need to release capacity in hospitals to deal with untreated conditions as well as those that have gone undiagnosed – these developments are making ‘out of hospital’ care more relevant than ever.”

For Andrew, this is exactly the kind of complex challenge for which Serco excels in developing careful and well-considered service solutions:

“One area we're looking at is remote care monitoring, in which patients and carers are equipped to manage their conditions at home. Intelligent remote devices are connected to a contact centre dashboard, from which specialist operatives can support good care and trigger intervention in the event anything anomalous occurs. It’s all about educating and enabling people to look after themselves and encouraging self-care habits that can help to improve quality of life.”

Andrew is looking forward to working with all Group Healthcare CoE stakeholders to consider the longer-term impacts of Covid-19, forecast future requirements and develop new service solutions to meet those needs. Helping customers to recognise the full value that Serco has to offer will also be essential:

“You could glance at what we do and assume it to be nothing more than simple, transactional tasks. For us, however, these are patient-oriented services that help to make a difference to people’s lives. We are always thinking about how they can be improved for the benefit of healthcare providers and their patients.”