HTN Trends Series: How has healthcare responded to recent challenges?

As part of the HTN Health Tech Trends Series, sponsored by InterSystems, we look at how individuals and healthcare teams have responded to the challenges of the past three months.

As we transition out of lockdown from an immensely difficult past few months, we feel it is time to reflect on the positives and draw attention to some of the efforts of those who work in health and care.

In conjunction with our Health Tech Leaders Awards, this article highlights some of the key projects over recent months.

Dr Minal Bakhai, GP, Deputy Director and National Clinical Lead, Digital First Primary Care Team, NHS England and Improvement

Dr Minal Bakhai and the digital first primary care (DFPC) team worked at pace to support practices who have led change locally and adapted to new ways of delivering care in response to the pandemic.

Dr Bakhai designed a nationally coordinated support offer, and with the support of her team set up and brought together a fully funded ‘blended’ team of expertise from the AHSNs, CSUs, national, regional and local teams, working together with a shared purpose of providing hands-on capacity to practices and PCNs to implement and optimise the use of digital tools to support new ways of working – which has received highly positive feedback.

The NHS Long Term plan set out a commitment for all patients to have access to digital first primary care by 2024, this small team of 10 people, led by Dr Minal Bakhai, have managed to support and champion general practice to lead change at pace and deliver care using remote consultations to patients during the pandemic.

Jason Allen, Data Manager, Research & Development, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust

The team said “Research is a key weapon in our fight against COVID. Jason set-up a research tracking tool in lightning fast time to enable research to be seamlessly carried out across numerous hospitals across the West Midlands.”

“To support adherence to protocols, Jason designed PatientTracker. This is bespoke to each research study and allows management of study visits and oversight by all team members involved. This ensures continuity of care and high-quality data capture and study integrity. This releases time for research staff to apply to other tasks such as offering research to more patients.”

“Jason worked tirelessly to set up a Tracker for the ‘Recovery’ research study, enabling the tool to be scaled up and adopted by the West Midlands Clinical Research Network across the region. Implemented remotely, with training via Zoom and Teams, to date, 12 hospitals are using the tool.”

Kate Warriner, Chief Digital Information Officer and Her Team at Alder Hey NHS Trust

Kate said: “The World, as we knew it, changed at the start of 2020. On the 30th of January, the World Health Organisation announced an international health emergency and by March, the emergency had turned into a pandemic. Caught in a constantly shifting scenario, Alder Hey, like all NHS providers, had to respond swiftly and effectively to immediate needs.In response, the Digital Team at Alder Hey undertook the seemingly impossible; to deliver what was required to support our children and young people, their families and our staff. Patient care is best when those providing it cooperate, learn from each other and are respectful of colleagues, non-medical staff, patients and families.”

“Alder Hey implemented Attend Anywhere at great pace amongst other rapidly rolled out technologies and trained over 700 users in the first 3 weeks which has enabled clinicians to perform over 800 digital consultations within a period of 8 weeks with patients who would otherwise have been required to come to site or have their appointments cancelled as a result of Covid-19.”

“Below is some feedback we received regarding one of our patient’s relatives:

“I can’t even begin to tell you what a difference such a small act has made to her. She was so low earlier today and this has enabled her to keep going during this difficult time. She said it has “refilled her heart”. I don’t know who was responsible for making it happen but please pass on my thanks and the overwhelming gratitude from her. You are all amazing.”

Dr Rosh Siva, Respiratory Consultant (Lead Covid-19 Consultant), Croydon Health Service NHS Trust 

Back in March Dr Rosh was given the task of leading the cohorting of COVID patients within Croydon University Hospital. The immediate problem was being able to visualise in real-time both the amount of suspected and confirmed COVID patients and their locations in relation to each other. The idea of a whiteboard with colour coded counters, locally now known as the “Rosh board” was developed.

Within 2 days the board was being used by the site team to help cohort patients. At this point Dr Rosh started working closely with Craig Burke, the CEO of PATEINTEER, an analytical software company. Craig had already been working at the hospital using the software to help with tracking patients and identify delays in the patient journey and workflows.

They then did two things. Firstly, they collaborated on making a digital version of the Roshboard which was based on an Excel database. This was ready within a week. CRT (Croydon Respiratory Team) collated microbiology results and populated the database. This database shows the exact location of every suspected and confirmed COVID patient. The database can be accessed by all clinical, operational, and management teams and currently is presented at a COVID clinical meeting at 12.30 daily.

Secondly, they started looking at the existing software and how they might customise it to help optimally manage COVID patients throughout their in-patient journey. The new software provides an overview of current trust COVID status showing the number and location of suspected and confirmed COVID patients.

Dr Nicole Atkinson, GP & ICS Clinical Lead, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS

Nicole is a GP in Nottingham and also the clinical lead for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS, providing clinically led leadership, advice and support to drive long lasting and sustainable digital enablement.

The team said “Since the Covid-19 outbreak Nicole has been a more prominent figure in the use and benefits of digital across health and care. She has been the driving force behind a number of significant digital transformation programmes including the deployment of a cloud based virtual desktop solution utilising virtual smart card access across primary care in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.”

“Nicole was a key influencer in the roll out of this solution, at pace, across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s primary care estate. Mentoring and supporting practices that were in danger of closing down due to the large number of staff unable to get into the surgery or treat patients safely from home due to not being able to access their clinical system.”

“She has also been a keen advocate of the NHS App and public facing digital services, creating a social movement to increase usage to support patients in accessing critical services digitally during Covid-19.”

“This resulted in over 20,000 new registrations, more than doubling uptake. 1,500 repeat prescription requests weekly and more than 1,800 organ donation preferences being set.”