Health Tech Awards Finalists 2021: Major Project Go Live 

This is one of HTN’s favourite categories, particularly with the challenge of delivering a programme through the pandemic, each finalist in this category has gone above and beyond for health and care, and are rightly winners in their own way.

Here we highlight the finalists in the Major Project Go Live category, and a very competitive it has been. In this feature we showcase projects from Rethink Partners, Practice Unbound, Southern Health, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, BDR/Medway, Qolcom & HPE Aruba and Medichecks.

Explore the finalists here…

Rethink Partners

In March 2020, Rethink Partners, Alcove and Essex, Suffolk and Kent Councils launched a programme and in 16 weeks, it equipped over 5,000 vulnerable adults with carephones, so they could talk to friends, family, carers and other professionals via video, when they were forbidden to meet.

The strategy was to identify key groups of people, with the most need, to help them stay connected with their friends, family and care services.

The company said: “Acting as a conduit between councils, providers, partners and Alcove and using the information available, Rethink Partners quickly identified the groups of people who would get the most benefit from the devices including those who were shielding, were in receipt of care services and those at most risk of social isolation and loneliness; we engaged heavily with commissioned care providers at this stage – they were on the ground and were essential in identifying people who were really in need in the early stages of lockdown.”

By the end of July 2020, in just 16 weeks, the project had delivered more than 5,000 Video Carephones (2,000 in Essex, 1,700 in Kent and 1,400 in Suffolk), which allowed more than 1 million video calls to be made in the last 12 months – all with one purpose; to keep the most vulnerable people in society in touch with care providers, loved ones and professionals using simple, accessible technology.

The team also trained more than 750 health and care professionals, including those working in care homes and in the community, all in the first 16 weeks, so they were able to support vulnerable people to use the technology and stay in contact with families and friends when contact was so limited.

Practice Unbound

Pathology Go from Practice Unbound is a new blended learning programme to support the safe delegation of pathology processing to trained administrators.

The latest programme follows the organisation’s success where it worked with over 3000 GP practices, delivering an online learning programme, Workflow Go, that trained administrators to process up to 80% of all clinical correspondence.

The entry stated: “With continued pressure on GP time, we wanted to identify ways of enabling GPs to have more time with patients with complex needs and to deliver person-centred care.”

“We began a pilot with Oxted Health Centre to identify and perfect the Governance Framework and training required to empower administrators to process routine blood results on behalf of GPs. This involved designing best practice and creating training and governance processes. With rapid learning cycles in place – training the administrators in the morning and then processing real time pathology results in the afternoon – the impact was seen same day. After auditing by a clinician to ensure the protocols were followed, the administrators had a 100% success rate.”

“We extrapolated our learning to create an online programme, Pathology Go, that could deliver the same benefits to practices across the UK. The programme delivers eLearning and tools & resources (auditing/governance/protocols) to enable practices to delegate high volume low risk tests. We initially worked with 20 early adopter practice groups so that we could test and adapt the programme in order to roll it out to a wider audience. This allowed us to test and adapt our best practice ‘decision aids’ which are key to supporting consistency in decision making and processing of routine bloods. The decision aids are protocol-led and enable the administrators to follow a clear pathway to process pathology results.”

The company aims for Pathology Go to release even more time for GPs, as their Workflow Go option did, and cites an average sized practice can save up to £7,250 per year, per GP with the implementation of Pathology Go. 200 practices are now taking the approach.

Qolcom & HPE Aruba

In response to the pandemic, the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter opened to provide additional capacity to care for COVID-19 patients. Purpose-built in just 8 weeks, a crucial requirement for the 116-bed Hospital was a robust, scalable and reliable network to support IT and healthcare teams to deliver better patient outcomes. Secure Wi-Fi network was a top priority to ensure operational efficiency to provide critical equipment and responsive care.

Qolcom, the EMEA and UKI Partner of the year for HPE Aruba, delivered “a comprehensive, reliable wired and wireless network across the site within weeks.”

The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust selected Qolcom and HPE Aruba, this meant that the on-the-ground presence the time to deploy was significantly reduced. Central services could be rapidly extended to the Nightingale Exeter for authentication–via Aruba ClearPass and for management, via Aruba Airwave.

The network solution had four defining features, each contributing to meeting the Nightingale Hospital’s precise requirements:

  1. Granular security (for wi-fi and wired network):
  2. Dependable hardware, intelligent design:
  3. Wireless connectivity, centralised control:
  4. Collaborative delivery and 24/7 support:

The outcome, the company notes was: “A fast, reliable and secure IT network was delivered for the Nightingale Exeter – to a very tight timescale and on budget.”

A testimonial from Paul Hopkins, Programme Director, NHS England, said: “It is really refreshing to work with a company which has such similar values to our organisation. The ability to deploy this major IT solution so quickly has potentially been life saving and a simple, secure experience, across a wide spectrum of users, will continue to be at the heart of Nightingale Exeter.”

Southern Health NHS FT

Next up is the Southen Health FT entry, which focuses on their work improving efficiency of information exchange in 0-19 services.

The National Event Messaging System was implemented by Southern Health in 2021 to provide an electronic solution to share events of children’s care across health domains and geographical boundaries, replacing manual collection and data entry processes for 448K children across Hampshire and the IOW.

The third trust to go live with NEMS nationally, and the first to achieve this as both a Child Health Information Service (CHIS) and provider of a 0 -19 Children’s service across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (H&IOW). The Trust collaborated with NHS Digital and Servelec, to design and implement a solution to not only receive and load NEMS events messages but to implement workflow ensuring events are shared with GP practices, Health Visitors and School Nurses to provide care and support to families as soon as possible.

The data flows include the automation of GP and address updates (where there are approximately 182k movers each year), birth and death notifications, and screening results.

Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS FT

The entry from Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust entry focused on their NHS.Net mail migration.

The project successfully migrated an on-premise trust email solution supporting 5,000 users across to the NHS Mail Shared Tenant using Accenture. The migration was completed after 11 weeks, one week ahead of schedule with minimal disruption to trust users.

Standing out in the entry was the approach from the team, the entry said: “The project team were also constantly in touch with colleagues to support the acceptance of the AUP policy, by sending trust wide and targeted comms. The final AUP acceptance rate was 76%. Feedback from NHS Digital was that the AUP acceptance rate was one of the highest they have seen across NHS trusts migrating to NHS mail. The high acceptance rate meant there were fewer queries about logging in and sending mail for the first time from our Trust Users, supporting a smoother transition.

“The project team sought advice from lessons learned by other NHS Trusts on their migration experience. From these lessons learned, additional technical measures were put in place to ensure that following migration the new NHSmail, traffic did not have the potential to saturate network links, as has been experienced by other Trusts, and ensure there was no impact to key systems such as RiO. This was achieved by applying QoS rules to our firewalls and switches and also by enforcing the use of Outlook Web Access for most users.”

Overall the Project Team successfully met the project brief and went above and beyond to put additional measures in place to ensure the risks associated with the project were mitigated and the project was delivered to a high standard and on time.

BDR Group and Medway Community Healthcare

The BDR Group has worked with Medway Community Healthcare (MCH) to provide cost-effective, robust solutions that enhance the experience for staff and service users, ensuring true value for money and future-proof operations.

The company specialises in bespoke IT systems and support, and operates as MCH’s outsourced IT.

During the past year the company helped MCH move to remote working, and delivered virtual desktop services to over 90% of MCH’s workforce within two weeks of lockdown.

In the entry the partnership highlighted the completed projects including:

  • Migration of WAN from a combination of various public networks (causing speed and reliability issues) to a single MPLS with breakouts into HSCN and Public internet with 100% uptime since implementation and up to 10x speed increase
  • Update or upgrade of all laptops and desktops to Windows 10 (Over 2,000 devices)
  • Implementation of a new EPR system and BI Reports around all sites
  • All community nurses now work from Surface Go’s with 4G tablets

Gerd Knight, Head of IT, MCH, commented: “At a stroke we’ve gone from broken and unreliable legacy IT to a scalable, reliable and fit for purpose solution that supports modern flexible ways of working. In short, a solution provided by BDR and Nutanix which ‘just works’ and is empowering us to deliver the healthcare services patients deserve today, while planning for the future with confidence.”


Medichecks, a leading healthcare testing provider, was selected by NHS Blood and Transplant Service and supplied over 37,000 blood tests within three months.

For the major research project assessing COVID antibodies among potential plasma donors, Medichecks created a bespoke strategy in a matter of weeks to deliver essential communications. 

The company was selected to deliver a pilot supplying finger prick blood test kits for COVID antibody tests to thousands of volunteers who registered through the NHSBT service.

Medichecks was among a number of blood testing providers awarded the project, but the very first roll out testing. The successful pilot saw Medichecks supply over 37,000 CE-marked blood test kits in just three months.

The Medichecks activity delivered the following results:

  • Approximately 251,000 emails were sent over the three-month pilot, including communications about the end of the trial to ensure donors were well informed at every stage.
  •  As part of the donor journey, Medichecks created a landing page which enabled volunteers to sign up to receive their at-home sample collection kit. The landing page achieved a 66% registration rate.
  • Overall, 66% of people returned their blood sample.
  • Throughout the trial, NHSBT wanted to test different types of potential donor data. The most successful set of data saw an 83% sample return rate.
  • On average, it took donors 7 days to return their blood sample from the date their kit was dispatched.

Dr Gail Miflin, NHS’ Chief Medical Officer, said: “Medichecks was a key partner in [this] pilot. With its finger prick blood test, we were able to successfully pre-screen donor candidates and identify those with high levels of antibodies so that we could make more efficient use of our donor centres. With Medichecks’ support we sampled around 37,600 candidates and identified over 12,700 potential high titre donors and proved a sampling model that we can build on in the future.

“Our team was particularly impressed by Medichecks’ willingness to help, the speed of response, the ability to deliver an engaging donor journey and the joint cooperation we developed in building the technical and reporting solutions.”