Leading Healthcare Awards 2022: five of the best COVID-19 project teams

With the Leading Healthcare Awards 2022 on the horizon, we’re taking a moment to celebrate the hard work of all our finalists.

In this category, we’re looking into how our finalists handled COVID-19 and their invaluable contributions in the pandemic response.

Thriva – Home Antibody Tests

First up in this category we have Thriva, whose Home Antibody Tests supplied an innovative, scalable and at-home solution to support the fight against COVID-19.

The development of Thriva’s tests allowed for SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing to be significantly increased, reaching a wider audience across the UK, whilst reducing the need for in-person testing.

The service was built on a dedicated platform and proprietary network of partners, allowing Thriva to tailor the service to optimally respond to the changing nature of the pandemic. The programme included sourcing all necessary materials, building and fulfilling kits, logistics, lab testing, and reporting results back to the Department of Health and Social Care and relevant scientific partners. Thriva was able to provide the full infrastructure for at-home antibody testing and was able to offer specific features for DHSC including kit linking (linking kits to end users at the point of fulfilment, minising potential manual errors from end users having to register the kit themselves) and real time data to keep DHSC updated with key moments such as when samples arrived at the lab.

To date, Thriva has processed 900,000 tests and at its peak the programme processed 10,000 tests per day.

Thirvia is now delivering its second programme for DHSC to provide an end-to-end solution for laboratory-run antibody testing. 

Medway NHS Foundation Trust – implementation of electronic patient record in under five months

The implementation of Medway NHS Foundation Trust’s EPR across 24 inpatient wards in less than five months.

A clinical transformation work stream was created, engaging stakeholders across IT, operations and clinical to ensure that everybody was aligned to the same goal. Each week, meetings were held to ensure that relationships were being created and nurtured between all stakeholders throughout the project.

To help train staff on using the new system, ward teams were incentivised through turning the training programme into a competitive but fun competition, with prizes for the fastest teams. This helped train over a thousand users in a very short space of time.

A ‘dress rehearsal’ was held to pre-empt any issues and encourage confidence with the system shortly before it went live and as a result, the go-live ran very smoothly. In the first 24 hours, more than 2000 documents were created in the system and within three weeks, there were almost 115,000 documents with more than 1000 daily users.

Now that the system is live, teams on the wards are maintaining their proactive approach, communicating with IT regularly to ensure that they are working compliantly with the system.

Suzanne O’Neil, EPR Director, said: “The enthusiasm from all sides to make the project a success was remarkable. The levels of perseverance, especially at such a trying time, are nothing short of extraordinary.”

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board – one year, one million vaccines

Next up we have Cam Taf Morgannwg UHB, whose highly skilled and diverse team came together to deliver a successful vaccination programme to protect the population and save lives.

Individuals were brought together from various clinical and non-clinical backgrounds to utilise a wide breadth of skills such as project management, data and informatics, workforce and HR, pharmacists, clinicians and communications. Collaboration was key and the vaccination programme showed partnership working at its best, with contribution from many different sectors such as the military providing logistical support and the third sector providing help such as taxis for patients facing travel barriers.

It was recognised that different population groups had different needs; for example, through collaborating with an educational lead, local authorities and children’s clinics, specific evening clinics were set up to vaccine high-risk children with specialists on-hand to help provide a calm, safe environment. Nurses were given specialty training to deliver outreach programmes to the homeless community, bed-bound patients and those living in women’s refuges.

Communication with the wider population was vital. Focus groups were set up with stakeholders and service users from ethnic minority groups to address concerns and share information. Pregnant women, identified as high-risk, were offered direct telephone consultations with the speciality immunisation teams along with question-and-answer sessions with midwives and Obstetricians. Speciality immunisation nurses also did a live Q&A session with the residents of HMP Parc to support myth-busting; 72% of the prison population have received at least one vaccine to date.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Digital & Business Intelligence COVID Project Team

When the pandemic hit, Gloucestershire Hospitals Digital Teams responded by rapidly deploying digital solutions to enable 2000+ staff to work from home, along with virtual outpatient clinics and reporting systems for data not routinely collected.

At the start of the pandemic, a project team consisting of operational, digital, business intelligence, emergency planning and clinical staff was brought together quickly to take decisions and actions for the trust in response to COVID-19. The project team created over 25 bespoke solutions which were designed, built and deployed within the first months of the pandemic.

Examples of solutions include: Virtual Desktops to allow 2000+ staff to work from home, Virtual Visiting via use of iPads on wards to allow families to communicate with hospitalised patients, and data models created to predict the volume of required PPE and oxygen.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – supporting the COVID-19 response

Finally we have the Digital IT team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals (LTHT), who operated in completely new ways during COVID-19, working collaboratively with clinical colleagues to create digital solutions to problems presented by the pandemic.

One of the solutions is Paper Lite, a system through which medical record papers could be digitised. The team developed a sustainable and comprehensive pick-up and scan service to provide a new medical records library. The creation of a digital library, involving scanning hubs with industrial equipment across every LTHT site, required comprehensive partnership, resource and supplier negotiation, and necessitated the team to work at scale and speed. Paper Lite has delivered a 95% reduction in the number of paper records requested since the beginning of the pandemic.

In response to the needs of critical care clinicians, the team developed a suite of documents focusing on patient safety, assurance and remote working, that could be used within LTHT’s Electronic Health Record, PPM+. Documentation such as Intensive Care medical form and Critical Care outreach form were digitised, with input from key critical care clinicians to prioritise document content. This enabled support teams working remotely to see the key documents needed, with many benefits once the solution was in place; for example, loved ones of hospitalised patients could be provided with daily updates.

The Information & Insight team also provided key support to the Trust’s COVID response. They managed and developed many data and reporting requirements, often in very short timeframes. Information from pathology reported PCR tests was utilised to create real-time reports and provide key information on current inpatients, enabling analysts to collate Situation Reports with minimal input from clinical colleagues, freeing up their time elsewhere. They developed a number of reporting dashboards to inform operational decision-making, such as predicting bed requirements and developing a scoreboard to indicate when the Trust would begin to feel pressure due to rising cases. In addition, the Information & Insight team played an important role in vaccination reporting, providing data to help the regional team focus on areas of low uptake.