Leading Healthcare Awards 2022: four of the best examples of patient improvement and innovation

Our next set of finalists in the Leading Healthcare Awards 2022 are being highlighted for their contributions to developments in Patient Improvement and Innovation – read on to find out more.


Co-founded by NHS surgeons Stephanie Eltz and Suman Saha in 2015, Doctify is a leading healthcare review platform that enables healthcare providers to collect and publish patient feedback online in order to promote trust and transparency.

The entry stated: “Feedback for healthcare providers has traditionally been collected in paper form and on an ad-hoc basis, with healthcare providers often struggling to source reviews and suffering from low engagement and low response quality. The number of people using online reviews to find healthcare providers in the past seven years has grown to 69%, indicating that people rely on verified reviews to make important healthcare decisions.”

Doctify empowers providers to give their patients a voice and share real experiences to learn from. The platform uses a closed system to ensure that all reviews are from real patients, and every review goes through a verification process. When the review is submitted, trained professionals and anti-fraud software determine the authenticity of the review, along with ensuring that the reviews are free from unsolicited medical advice or claims that cannot be validated. This means that people reading Doctify’s reviews are guaranteed to find genuine, relevant experiences from real patients.

So far, Doctify has helped more than 50 million patients across the world make informed choices about their care. 

One patient said: “Doctify is a fantastic platform that lets you find healthcare specialists and read real patient reviews. I was looking for an ENT for my tinnitus and found this a very helpful source of info!”

Another commented: “Doctify is a very good website, with lots of validated information about lots of doctors in all specialities. It is a website you can trust to decide which doctor to choose, wherever you are.”

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Our next finalist is Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, working in collaboration with higher qualified optometrists to deliver shared ophthalmic care to the citizens of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

The collaboration seeks to address the existing capacity/demand imbalance and create radical change in the way ophthalmic service in Wales is delivered.

With factors such as longer life expectancy, increased obesity levels and challenges in rural recruiting all having an impact on eyecare services, it was recognised that a higher trained primary care workforce was needed. A five-year training and development plan commencing in 2018 was put in place, to enable Optometrists to undertake higher level training in Glaucoma, Medical Retina and Independent Prescribing. Qualifications are mainly delivered through distance learning, alleviating challenges for rural recruitment.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, five Ophthalmic and Diagnostic Treatment Centres were made operational with Consultant Virtual Clinics and 3000+ patient outcomes were updated onto OpenEyes EPR to enable support to be provided despite having to move 94% of patients out of the Eye Hospital. Space was provided to enable consultants to continue to see patients with more complex needs.

The entry states: “More than 1400 patient questionnaires have been obtained from patients accessing these new services, with early patient feedback indicating that patients prefer to be treated locally rather than in hospital. The local optometrist uses the same high level of equipment as the hospital, and patients are reassured that the optometrists can view and share their hospital eye records.

“The benefits of the shared eye care programme can already be seen. Throughout COVID-19, Cardiff and Vale University Health Boards’ performance of R1 patients (AMD, Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy) seen within their target date remained stable, and by March 2021 the average of 60.9% was higher than the NHS Wales average of 44.8%.”

The training programme continues, with 2022/23 set to address the provision of training placements for Higher Glaucoma and Medical Retina, and support the delivery of shared ophthalmic care.

Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust

The next finalists, Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust, developed digital options to help relatives keep in touch with hospitalised loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust established three digital options for patients and their loved ones to keep in touch: Virtual in Hospital Visiting Service, Relatives’ Line and Letter to a Loved One.

Virtual in Hospital Visiting Service is facilitated through Microsoft Teams, enabling up to three people to connect virtually from anywhere in the world and supporting vulnerable patients who are too ill or otherwise unable to connect virtually. Relatives’ Line is operated by nursing staff away from the frontline, keeping loved ones updated in a caring and compassionate manner away from the critical ward environment and affording frontline staff more time to care. Letters to a Loved One allows relatives to send a digital letter and photograph seven days a week, keeping patients and their loved ones connected in a COVID-secure way.

Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust and Whittington Health NHS Trust

Last but not least, Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust and Whittington Health NHS Trust have worked together to establish a respiratory outreach clinic with substance misuse services.

The entry states: “There are high rates of undiagnosed or unmanaged respiratory disease in those attending substance misuse services, but the population can be difficult to reach.”

The trusts noted that patients were more likely to attend for opioid substitution therapy and hoped to capitalise on this attendance to offer assessment, testing, education and advice from a respiratory physician onsite at Better Lives, Islington’s substance misuse service. In doing so, they hoped to pick up cases of smoking-related lung disease that would have otherwise gone undiagnosed.

“A number of clients were identified to attend the clinic, all of whom were smoking a range of substances. Each client was provided with a structured assessment by the respiratory clinician, along with explanation of findings, advice and potentially an onward referral to a GP or stop smoking service. They were screened before and after the visit to assess understanding and impact,” the entry said.

Even at an early stage, the clinics identified serious conditions that would have otherwise gone undiagnosed. A new diagnosis of COPD was made in 42% of clients attending, with four further clients tested for asthma and obstructive sleep apnoea. One service user described symptoms that required urgent investigation from their GP, with GPs asked to follow up for routine investigation in a further seven clients. Feedback from clients demonstrated better understanding in how their lungs worked, the importance of giving up smoking and their confidence to do so, and the likelihood of getting a fly vaccination.

Better Lives staff said that they feel much more reassured that they have the appropriate clinical support when managing breathless clients, and now refer clients proactively and independently, demonstrating that it has been embedded in the culture of service provision.

The project has created a cohesive working relationship between the two Trusts, resulting in opportunities to learn from the other’s approach and better serving the healthcare needs of a hard-to-reach population.