Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly ICB highlights progress on patient empowerment, engagement and inclusion

In the latest meeting of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (CIOS) integrated care board, CIO Kelvyn Hipperson shared an update on digital progress in the region, highlighting developments in progress around improving digital maturity, citizen engagement and patient experience.

Underpinning this work, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly shares how its ICB-wide engagement strategy “provides a wide range of opportunity for citizens to influence service development”, including development of a digital engagement panel designed to support direct feedback on digital capabilities.

The ICB notes that many NHS App functionalities are now available across Cornwall, including appointment management, repeat medication ordering and GP records access, with messages to patients delivered from electronic system to app rather than sent via SMS as part of efforts to reduce costs. Additionally, phase two features of the national Wayfinder programme – designed to allow citizens to manage acute secondary care via the app – is underway at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, following phase one’s roll-out last year. The second phase is hoped to include enablement of notifications and alerts, waiting time information, clinical letters and pre-consultation questionnaires.

Although recognising that “more work needs to be done” on ensuring that local services are “consistently and easily accessible” for citizens, the update celebrates the progress made across the ICB’s websites, with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals and CIOS websites ranking number one and two respectively, above, in Silktide’s NHS website accessibility ranking. Areas for more work include developing search engines to handle a “much wider range of terminology” and more visibility of services across primary care, social care and third sector sites. The ICB acknowledges that “diverse ownership” of websites across ICS partners makes a single design standard “unlikely to be realised in the short term”, but shares hopes that public engagement through the digital panel will encourage greater consistency and improve search functionality.

Also on this note, the report highlights self-service pathways available across the system for self-triage, referral, condition management and advice and guidance. However, these pathways are also split across multiple channels, with the ICB stating that more public engagement and co-design should also support consistency in this area.

Looking to patient access to data, results, and correspondence, the update shares that patient access to the Devon and Cornwall Care Record is “being considered”; that an electronic version of the Treatment Escalation Plan is currently being trialled with Devon and Cornwall being invited to “take the lead” on the integration of Shared Care Records into the National Record Locator and the National Care Record Service; and that to boost digital maturity the ICB will need to offer “single portal capability across all care settings”.

On digital inclusion, the ICB highlights that funding for a number of joint projects with Cornwall Council is being used to expand digital inclusion provision and to help the ICB meet the aims of the NHS England Digital Inclusion Framework. The device and connectivity loan scheme, offering devices and connectivity free of charge to those without internet access, and the ICB’s digital champions are also making an impact, with 186 digital champions “embedded in organisations across Cornwall” supporting “on average 462 people a month” to use online services.

Looking ahead, the update describes some of the actions to be taken to extend the ICB’s progress on empowering citizens over the next two years, including “targeted investment” in the Embedded Digital Champions Network to focus on working with organisations who work with those most likely to be digitally excluded, extending the Device and Connectivity loan scheme, developing a network of digital wellbeing hubs, improving and supporting digital skills in the social care workforce, promoting social prescribing for digital inclusion, and launching a communication and awareness campaign so that people and organisations know where to go for support with digital inclusion.

Digital progress in Cornwall

Earlier in the year we reported how Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust partnered with Isla Health to offer dermatology services remotely to patients across community hospitals in Cornwall, enabling patients to be referred-in by their GP to an imaging clinic for photographs to be taken of areas identified for concern, before those images are reviewed by a consultant using the platform the following day.

We highlighted progress made by the virtual wards programme at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust over the winter, with capacity growing to 212 patients, and with 1,900 patients being treated over the year, with the trust estimating a saving of “more than 16,500 inpatient days in hospital”.