News, Secondary Care

UK specialist cancer trusts announce Digital Star Awards 2021 winners

The Digital Stars Awards 2021, an event which showcases the achievements by staff at three of the UK’s specialist cancer trusts and centres, has announced this year’s winners at an online celebration.

Bringing together digital, data, research and tech teams from The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in the Wirral, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London, the inaugural awards ceremony shone a light on the hard work being done behind the scenes.

Featuring 12 categories overall, the awards were split into eight sections for individual recipients, and a further four organisation-wide awards.

The host, Will Pearse, Project Manager at The Christie, provided the jokes and introductions, and guided the audience through the event, which included the announcements of the winners by special guests, as well as a selection of fun polls about remote working (hands up, who has been working in their pyjamas? Or had a cat crash their Teams chat?), a presentation by Mike Jones from the advisory firm Gartner, and – crucially – a Christmas pudding pot raffle.

Alistair Reid-Pearson, The Christie’s Interim Chief Information Officer, said: “The awards are an opportunity to recognise the amazing work of our digital teams over the past year, and what a year it’s been – yet we’re still keeping our trust running, making sure our cancer patients can be treated, [are] implementing new and exciting changes, and all of this whilst juggling your own challenges. You really are amazing…these awards and for digital staff, by digital staff.”

Lisa Emery, Chief Information Officer, the Royal Marsden, also noted: “I’m absolutely delighted to be joining you all, celebrating our teams and the wonderful work they’ve done…congratulations to all the winners, runners-up, and everyone who has been nominated and beyond.”

Sarah Barr, Chief Information Officer for the Clatterbridge, added: “It’s great to be part of this amazing event – there’s so much hard work that’s gone on across all the organisations and I’m hoping that’s going to promote a bit more competition and that we’ll deliver even better care for our patients in the future.”

The winners – who scooped which award?

The prize winners from the first section of nominees, which awarded an outstanding team or individual for their efforts, involved selecting one recipient from each cancer trust or centre. Without further ado, they are as follows:

  • Embracing Change – Kirishanth Sivarajah (Royal Marsden); Louise Cave (The Christie), Helen Card (Clatterbridge).
  • Newcomer of the Year – Julie Ann Cox (Royal Marsden); Laura Hindley (The Christie); Aaron Key (Clatterbridge).
  • The Above and Beyond Award– Sivashanker Sivashanmugam (Royal Marsden); Paul Clarke (The Christie); Richard Kane (Clatterbridge)
  • Outstanding Digital Services (supervisor/ team leader/manager)– Andrew Hosier (Royal Marsden); Paul Blade (The Christie); Paula Pickford (Clatterbridge).
  • Outstanding Digital Contribution to the Patient Experience– The Application Development Team (Royal Marsden); Jo Jackson (The Christie); Jenni Bradshaw (Clatterbridge).
  • Outstanding Digital Team– Digital Service Support Team (Royal Marsden); eForms Team (The Christie); the whole Digital Team (Clatterbridge).
  • CIO’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Digital Services– Glenyss Moller (Royal Marsden); Selina Sykes (The Christie); James Crowther (Clatterbridge).
  • Special Recognition Award– Michael Horan (Royal Marsden); George Brophy (The Christie); Esther Willis (Clatterbridge).

The overall Cancer Centre Award winners, who were up against fellow nominees from each trust or centre, meanwhile, were:

  • Outstanding Contribution to Research(recognising where data has been used to enable trials, give valuable insights, and make positive changes) – Lisa Scerri – for work supporting the Royal Marsden Biomedical Research Informatics Environment, BRIDgE. This included calling notice to RM research teams, filtering responses, and contributing to the short-listing process. “Lisa has been stand out for me, she is clearly very adept at informatics, understand[s] business processes and ultimately the challenges faced to drive the research function forwards,” said one colleague.
  • Award for Digital Innovation and Improvement(for an individual or team that’s made a difference to the working lives of colleagues through a new development, technical innovation, or process improvement) – the Royal Marsden Digital Service Desk – for striving to improve the “quality and efficiency of the support service it offers to RM staff”. For example, through utilising new technology to provide a better call waiting experience, renewed communications with focus groups to raise awareness and understanding, and the creation of a Problem Management group to identify solutions or work arounds for staff digital issues.
  • Best Technology Initiative of the Year(science or knowledge put into practical use to solve problems) – James Crowther of the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – for working with partner organisations, including Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Meditech, Teknicor and Dell. As part of the new hospital opening, he undertook a joint collaboration at scale infrastructure programme with Alder Hey to introduce a ‘platinum standard shared infrastructure’, providing a ‘true active data centre’ and minimising the risk of systems outages.
  • Outstanding Digital Contribution to Patient Experience/Patient Outcomes(for an individual or team which has directly or indirectly contributed to improved patient experience/patient outcomes over the last year) – Lauren Scanlon of The Christie – for working with Oncology, the AKI team, and Analytics to develop an AI prediction tool, based on routine blood tests, that predicts an AKI event up to 30 days before it occurs and can also be implemented into an EPR. It is intended this will work alongside the current NHS AKI tool to provide alerts at the time of an AKI event.

Digital notes – CIOs share their thoughts with HTN

Ahead of the ceremony and celebration, the Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of each participating organisation shared their thoughts on the digital projects from the past year or so, as well as plans for the next year to come…

Explaining the digital achievements of the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre across the last 18 months, Sarah Barr, Chief Information Officer, said: “The team led an early response to COVID, ensuring kit was deployed to enable staff to work effectively from home. We were able to accelerate programmes already planned, such as remote video consultations, Office 365 SharePoint and MS Teams. To support our patients, we deployed a number of new initiatives to support patient communication, consolidating all of the apps onto single cart devices.

“In addition to COVID, the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre opened its new hospital in Liverpool city centre, at the height of the pandemic. The Digital Team technically commissioned the new hospital within a shortened period to support patient care across the Cheshire and Merseyside Health Care System. This included the design and implementation of state-of-the-art server infrastructure to host our digital systems. This new infrastructure is now serving as the bedrock of our digital estate offering high performance and resilience of systems.

“Part of this solution is running in partnership with two additional NHS trusts; enabling all parties to realise efficiencies in collaboration. We also implemented Virtual Desktop infrastructure enabling our staff to “tap and go” across all our sites and introduced patient kiosks across our sites to capture patient demographic changes and improve patient check in experience.

“The team continues to support the organisation on its digital journey with “Be Digital” as one of the strategic objectives within the trust’s five-year plan which was recently published.”

On The Christie’s recent work, Alistair Reid-Pearson, Interim Chief Information Officer, told HTN that, “The Christie Digital team are putting innovation at the heart of what we do. Our in-house developed EHR [Electronic Health Record] system is one example of how we are tailoring a service to meet the needs of those using it. Our recent partnership with Better and our EHR roadmap will ensure the future is exciting and innovative.”

“Christie Digital Services is driven forward by our amazing staff. A diverse mix of engineers, developers, analysts, digital nurses, project managers and many more, who all put the patient at the heart of what they do. Considering the patient perspective means we design our services with empathy and understanding and make the digital changes needed to improve patient outcomes,” he added.

While Lisa Emery, Chief Information Officer at the Royal Marsden, commented: “At the Royal Marsden, as with all organisations, the last 18 months had a strong focus on the response to COVID. In some cases, we accelerated programmes of work already underway, such as the deployment of Office 365 and Teams, to support our staff to work from home. We also rolled out virtual patient appointments.

“Over the last six months or so, we have worked to complete some of our large infrastructure programmes such as the replacement of our wired and wireless networks across the trust and have also brought our IT service provision back in-house.

“Excitingly, we have recently embarked on the delivery our new Digital Health Record, deploying Epic in a partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital. Alongside this, we are continuing to deploy tools and training to support our staff to really exploit the technology we have invested in and to underpin the research activity in which the trust is a world-leader.”

HTN would like to say a big congratulations to all the winners and nominees at the awards – great work all round!