Featured finalists: a year of exciting partnerships and digital transformation

It’s almost time for our Leading Healthcare Awards 2021 – an evening where we celebrate great ideas and dedicated teams of healthcare professionals who’ve made a huge difference across the past year.

We’ve already provided a round-up of the excellent work being done across our first four categories – in innovation and remote monitoring, patient safety and patient support.

So now it’s time to take a closer look at our final two categories and find out who’s excelled in digital transformation and collaboration. Below we present projects that have led to impressive digital change, as well as some of the year’s best partnerships.

Partnership of the Year

Who’s worked well together this year to deliver digital and healthcare work that’s made an impact? Our entries for this award encompass a diverse range of partners – from NHS trusts and business services, through to several independent innovators and organisations.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust & Inform Health

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust has been working with tech company Inform Health to deliver fully-electronic management of COVID-19 staff testing.

In April 2020, Inform Health and the trust designed, set-up and tested a system for staff COVID-19 testing. The reconfiguration took just one day and helped NUH to manage its virus response.

When staff first report their absence, a triage process kicks in and, if the criteria are met, staff are advised to call to book an appointment. The system then assigns appointments and sends automated text confirmations.

As well as assigning and directing staff to car park zones, the flexible service also ensures staff can be accommodated if they walk or cycle, too. In addition, the systems allow details to be confirmed and samples taken in an average of 95 seconds, before being submitted for same-day testing.

Through this project, NUH has been able to save significant staff hours, support the national SIREN study into anti-gen testing of asymptomatic staff and help to mitigate ward outbreaks.

NHS Business Services Authority & Difrent

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) has been working alongside digital transformation specialists Difrent. Together, they’ve been improving digital services across the NHS over the last three years.

With quite a large scope, the collaboration has been involved in re-designing and re-building the new NHS Jobs recruitment platform for both applicants and hiring mangers and handling millions of job applications per year, to improve Overseas Healthcare Services for users and staff, following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Difrent tells us that, through blended teams of user researchers, service designers, business analysts, delivery managers and engineers, the partnership has ‘collectively built a sustainable, user-centric delivery culture that’s producing positive outcomes for many of the organisation’s users’.

Vita Health Group & Limbic

Vita Health Group (VHG) has been working in partnership with Limbic, an AI innovation organisation, to create a chatbot to enhance access to NHS Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) primary care mental health services.

The chatbot works by helping to streamline referral processes. It does this by asking a series of questions to patients to see if they fit the criteria for treatment, in regards to age, location and GP practice. If not, the bot will direct users to a more appropriate service. If the patient does fit the criteria, they will either be referred into the IAPT service for assessment within 48 hours, or be given the option to complete a second stage of questions to enable full clinical screening.

The technology can also recommend appropriate patient pathways based on need, including access to computerised cognitive behavioural therapy or same-day clinical referrals for those deemed at risk.

According to VHG, through this partnership they are now successfully providing IAPT services to five CCGs and are mobilising a sixth IAPT service.

HAS Technology & LondonADASS

London ADASS and HAS Technology worked together to repurpose its PAMMS (Provider Assessment & Market Management Solution) software. This enabled the collation of health and social care data, to help daily risk management across care settings in 32 boroughs.

At the start of the pandemic the project was accelerated and, in just a few weeks, before the country had gone into lockdown, they were able to quickly repurpose the technology for digital collection.

Collecting daily COVID-19 data from all providers followed – including mental health, disability services and homecare services such as PPE supplies, staffing levels, cases, and capacity.

The collaborative nature of the work allowed the London Fire Brigade to deliver PPE to those most in need. While the London School of Economics also utilised the data for modelling, producing daily ‘Market Intelligence Reports’, alongside key themed workshops and creating alerts of emerging risks. A governance structure was also created with an Adult Social Care Market Insight Board, to ensure a collaborative approach.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust & Portsmouth Technologies Trials Unit (PTTU)

Portsmouth Technologies Trials Unit (PTTU) worked with Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust to streamline and connect existing systems securely and solve inefficiencies.

A successful funding bid through the Health System Led Investment in Provider Digitisation fund (HSLI) moved the trust away from managing multiple technologies, and built upon its existing clinical portal called ‘Minestrone’.

A clinical network was created to support programmes, including the recruitment of clinicians, who collected feedback from staff and patients and worked in direct partnership with in-house agile development teams.

According to the trust, Minestrone was ‘reborn’ by combining patient information from multiple systems and eliminating the need for multiple logons. A secure mobile version was also developed and an interoperability function enabled clinicians to access GP and community records through the regional Care and Health Information Exchange (CHIE).

The basic bed-management system evolved and interactive digital display boards improved the delivery of real-time patient information, while hospital correspondence was also digitised.

This all led to 50,000 hours of saved clinical time, while learnings were shared with multiple clinical and digital forums within the Hampshire & Isle of Wight STP. The trust is also working with the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries within the University of Portsmouth to develop the BedView software user interface.

Digital Transformation

We’ve also taken a long look at which initiatives have led to a transformation – of systems, services or support. Our list includes everything from digitised pre-operative assessment pathways and VR treatments to health and wellbeing programmes.

Synopsis smooths out pre-assessment in Worcestershire

Synopsis helped to overhaul the pre-operative assessment pathway at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

In a move that also helped with social distancing measures and reducing interactions and footfall, the trust began using digital questionnaires that patients could complete from home.

Working in collaboration with digital pre-operative assessment pathway specialist, Synopsis, the trust was able to provide full PAS integration and facilitate instant access to the results of a patient’s POA questionnaire, whether it was completed on or off-site.

Risk assessment levels are also supported , alongside cardiac risk and lung risk levels, providing care teams with relevant information to triage patients. The trust says it has since seen a reduction in the number of patients attending hospital, while increasing pre-operative capacity.

Diet management and wellbeing care

Diet Care offers health and nutritional food and weight management programmes, as well as its own microbiology lab, which is accredited by the Arab Center for Nutrition, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) and ISO certified.

Established in 2005, the Kuwait-based health and wellbeing company has been helping people manage their weight, diet and more, for over 15 years.

According to Diet Care, its internationally accredited dieticians help thousands of members daily across 100 outlets, and it’s also extended its services into the health care industry, working with local hospitals according to their patients’ needs and health status.

everyLIFE connects the dots for GP info

everyLIFE’s integrated PASS digital care management system aims to promote safer, efficient social care through up-to-date GP information at the point of care, across domiciliary, residential and complex care settings.

Delivering real-time data sharing between practitioners, it enables care providers to access the latest clinical information. The company says it was also the first product of its type to receive Full Rollout Approval (FRA) from NHS Digital for Access Record: HTML, as part of the GP Connect programme.

Within the first month of its staggered roll out, over 1,300 care receivers were benefiting from GP Connect data within PASS and the rollout continues nationwide. Through its system, GP Connect is now available to care providers in regions across England, including London, Devon, Derbyshire, the Wirral, Taunton, Gloucestershire, Bristol, Isle of Wight, Plymouth and Norfolk.

By providing easy access to information it also helps social care providers to schedule, record, manage and assist with the delivery of care, while tracking and reporting on outcomes.

Tekihealth takes care home services remote

Tekihealth Solutions’ ‘Teki-Hub’ is a remote examination kit developed by NHS GPs, with the aim to reduce unplanned hospital visits and the need for GP home visits in care homes.

Trialled in care homes across the nation, Teki-Hub’s offering includes a high-resolution video and still camera, no-touch infrared basal thermometer, stethoscope, otoscope and tongue depressor attachments, as well as vital signs monitoring.

It enables clinicians to carry out remote physical examinations of residents through a hand-held device that is connected to a compact lightweight wireless internet router.

Oxford VR makes mental health immersive

Oxford VR has developed evidence-based virtual reality treatments for mental health conditions with the aim of improving access to treatment for millions. Its social engagement program, in particular, uses technology to help individuals overcome ‘anxious social avoidance’.

A spinout company from the University of Oxford, its mission is to build psychological treatments using state-of-the-art immersive tech. This is harnessed to create powerful simulations of real-world scenarios in which psychological difficulties can occur. The virtual reality treatments are automated, while therapy is delivered by a virtual coach alongside face-to-face therapy.

COVID-19 has also accelerated Oxford VR’s development into a blended care model of in-clinic and at-home deployment and the team are now developing new modules that can be accessible to patients in their homes.

Leicestershire aims to be Healthy Together

Last but by no means least, we have the Leicestershire Partnership (LPT) NHS Trust ‘supporting healthcare teams through technology’ via its Healthy Together project.

LPT’s 0-19 public health nursing service is delivered across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. The service has been growing its digital presence for parents, carers and young people who need and want easy access to trusted information and advice about health and wellbeing. The digital offering allows them to access this without making an appointment.

The online offering comprises three websites: Health for Under 5s , Health for Kids, and Health for Teens. These are promoted through social media channels and, during the pandemic, became a tool for sharing important health messages.

After developing a huge variety of tailored web content for its audience during the pandemic, and receiving thousands of page visits, the digital service is being promoted as a ‘first port of call’ for families and young people looking for health advice and clear public health messages.

Follow awards evening live from 7pm on 1 April, via @leading1health.