Feature Content, Interview

“We have to be ready with a system fit for the future” Mark Fewster on improving patient safety

We recently spoke with Mark Fewster, Chief Product Officer from Radar Healthcare, about a range of health tech topics, including how they’re developing their risk, quality, and compliance system to improve patient safety in different healthcare settings using AI and machine learning; how their product has evolved over time; and a glimpse into their innovative roadmap for the future.

Hi Mark, tell us about your role and your background

I’m the chief product officer at Radar Healthcare, which means I’m responsible for developing the product’s strategy and roadmap. I focus on what our software does and what it must do in the upcoming two, three, and five years.

Before entering the healthcare field, I worked in hospitality, using the Internet of Things (IoT) to gauge the quality of beer served in pubs and bars. This was back when it was known as telemetry, which is basically working with devices that can connect and send information elsewhere. A large portion of it involved what is today referred to as ‘big data’ – the process of taking a lot of complex information and translating it into something that people can readily consume.

Serving people

At Radar Healthcare, our technology benefits anyone who comes into contact with healthcare at some point in their lives and may be at risk of a patient safety error. Our software is there to identify risk and ensure that processes are followed by health and social care professionals, helping to drive safer outcomes, and encouraging professionals to learn, take action, and continuously improve.

Consider an NHS organisation or a care home: there is so much going on every day, and incidents occur that are often unavoidable with people in ill health. Our system allows you to take those lessons learned and turn them into action plans that you can then share with the rest of the organisation. The patient or resident benefits from this because the technology supports the system in improving its care for them going forward. It all boils down to outcomes and, ultimately, reducing the number of patient safety incidents as the system improves.

HC-One, the UK’s largest elderly residential care provider, partnered with us in 2021 to help drive that outcome-focused approach. We’re creating a new innovative insights model and Radar Healthcare is integral to this. We want early warnings and holistic views across our homes. Having that central spine means we can start to have proper conversations around where we can develop meaningful quality improvements and the really exciting element is the insight.

We also place a strong focus on user-centred design; whenever we design anything, we involve and engage the customer in the process. It’s about designing the product alongside the people who will actually use it, with end users in mind, so that we can create something simple that a clinician or carer can use. Working with our partners is exactly how our new and improved audits module was developed. We initially built the module to deliver value, but it’s not a finished product; this gives our partners in the beta stage the opportunity to shape and mould it into what it will end up looking like. It means they get the features they want and need. We have improved and added features such as the ability to select from a variety of response types to complete different audits, offline working and allowing audits such as CQC or clinical to be directly linked to action and improvement plans, and, most importantly, analytics. Customers can take their audit information and make sense of it while adding more value. For example, what are the top ten failed questions, where can I make the most difference if I make this improvement – basically, where should we spend our time to drive positive change and outcomes?

Across settings

Our software is unique in that it can be used in any healthcare setting as it’s configurable to work with any nuances across different care settings.

In the last ten years, we’ve worked with everyone from the NHS to care homes to national systems like the Ministry of Health and Prevention in Dubai. We have many different use cases from various settings, so we’re exceptionally good at helping partners with what they need to build.

In working with a large number of customers across different settings we learn what works and what doesn’t work, and we have templates and processes that customers can use based on previous experiences. We bring knowledge and learned experiences to the process.

Future-proofing technology

The Patient Safety Incident Response Framework (PSIRF) is an excellent example of how our technology can support future change. For context, the PSIRF, which replaced the 2015 Serious Incident Framework, outlines the NHS’s approach to responding to patient safety incidents. Historically, a patient safety incident would happen, and you would have to investigate every single event on a step-by-step basis, pulling out individual lessons learned from each one.

The PSIRF moves away from that, as well as from a blame culture, and instead focuses on learnings. It recommends the use of learning response methods such as After Action Reviews (AAR), swarm huddles, and MDTs (multi-disciplinary teams) which bring everyone involved in an incident together to gain different perspectives on it.

There is also a focus on human factors, such as what may have contributed to an incident. For example, a nurse may have forgotten to administer the correct medication, but did the nurse just finish a long double shift due to staffing shortages?

The PSIRF requires flexible responses to incidents, which our system can provide, allowing us to scale and underpin PSIRF in any healthcare setting. You’re not limited to a specific process, in fact, you’re not even limited to existing processes; you can use it to test a new response type or multiple different response types. We give users the ability to do something different and ensure that our system is capable of evolving.

The system is very good at underpinning what future change might look like. What will the next version of PSIRF look like? We don’t know yet, but we have to be ready for it with a system fit for the future.

Innovative roadmap

In complex organisations, there’s lots of information floating around, from various sources. There is the Internet of Things, which includes things like medicine fridges, food fridges, medical devices, patient wearables, and data points within other systems. There’s artificial intelligence, third-party systems, and data on things like staffing levels, workforce well-being, and document storage.

What we’ve built and continue to build is the ability to take information from any of these sources and feed it into one place, our platform, to build out a process. We bring in data from other products as well – we don’t need to develop a variety of platforms for different purposes, we can simply plug into existing ones.

For example, if the system receives data on staff well-being indicating that burnout is an issue, and it also notices a spike in the number of people reporting patient safety incidents, it can automatically correlate the two issues and notify the appropriate people. Maybe the burnout is due to low staffing levels – Radar Healthcare will notice this as well. It gathers a lot of information and cross-references it all.

And because we are at the centre of all this complex information, we can provide oversight on all those individual factors as well as on a large scale – for example, if there was an outbreak, using our analytics dashboard. Having this level of oversight provides assurance in areas such as staffing levels or recurring issues with specific devices. And, because it’s constantly being fed data and uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, it automates previously manual processes, allowing clinicians to focus on what matters most: the patient.

More recently, we’ve been looking into how our partners can benefit from purchasing and accessing other people’s products, such as a new platform or toolkit, or from a consultancy service; as the central host, we’re working to integrate those into Radar Healthcare as well.

Next, we’re looking at improving self-service which will allow our platform to be even more customisable for the users, so they don’t have to rely on us.

Many thanks to Mark for taking the time to join us.

If you’d like to learn more about Radar Healthcare, visit www.radarhealthcare.com.