- 21 January 2020
- Posted in: Healthcare
Delivering Digital Healthcare Innovation in a Real-World Setting
There has never been greater demand to discover innovative, scalable solutions that support the delivery of better and cost-effective patient care across the NHS. Whilst underfunding and workforce shortages are often the focus of UK newspaper headlines, the good news is that the NHS is rich in entrepreneurial thinkers and innovative ideas that have the potential to transform the way we care for our patients and how we run our hospitals.
So how can we harness this and work with innovators - both within the NHS and externally - and fast-track innovative solutions? One of the Trusts leading the way is Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who launched CW Innovation last year in partnership with its charity CW+. The CW Innovation programme identifies, attracts, embeds and evaluates new innovations and technologies to improve operational efficiency and, critically, patient care and patient experience. It provides a test bed for the development and implementation of high-impact digital and medtech innovations and is designed to support the national agenda to help deliver on the vision of scalability and replicability across the NHS stakeholder network.
Lord O’Shaughnessy, who served as parliamentary under secretary of state in the Department of Health and Social Care between 2016 and 2018, talks about the Trust as an emerging leader in healthcare innovation; “Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has a proven track record as an early-adopter and designer of next-generation services and care tools. By evaluating the real-world experience and by putting the patients first, they have been able to roll out initiatives across NHS services so more patients and organisations can benefit.”
For more than four years, the Trust has developed a pipeline of over 70 ‘test and scale’ innovation projects, many of which have been staff-led. The Trust has worked to create a proactive and open environment, which encourages staff to develop their own ideas and bring them to fruition.
One such project within CW Innovation is the postnatal digital project, led by Dr Sunita Sharma, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Chelsea and Westminster, and co-developed with Lumeon Technology.
The Trust has one of the largest maternity services in the country supporting over 10,000 women every year, with a typical stay being between 1-3 days. In response to women’s feedback about need for better coordination of mother and baby ward processes and reduction in delay associated with discharges, the digital dashboard was developed to improve patient and staff experiences and increase service efficiency.
Launched in December 2018, the user-friendly technology is transforming how the postnatal department runs. All activities and tasks of ‘mother and baby’ are coordinated digitally enabling a good overview of the care being delivered. Staff are able to communicate more effectively and efficiently with each other and new mums, to provide a more holistic overview relating to them and their baby as regards getting them ready for home. The tool creates work lists for different staff groups and also offers the ability to capture and analyse data supporting a number of quality improvement projects.
Robbie Hughes, Founder and CEO of Lumeon, explains; “The NHS has recently announced both maternity and digital health services as key focus areas in the Long Term Plan. Our work with Chelsea and Westminster has been put into motion at a particularly significant time and we look forward to scaling our innovative system across the NHS, starting with maternity and postnatal pathways.”
The Lumeon project - like all of the initiatives within the CW Innovation programme - has involved:
- Developing a solution that takes the needs of the end-user and staff into consideration
- Testing the tool, technology, service or system in a real-world setting
- Evaluating at every stage, constantly assessing feasibility and generalisability
But how can staff do all of this whilst also doing their day job? Chris Chaney, chief executive of CW+ and co-lead of CW Innovation, explains; “The CW Innovation programme is designed to connect the frontline clinical and operational staff with partner organisations, both in and outside of the NHS. We have a growing internal innovation team with dedicated innovation managers who assist staff throughout the entire process and facilitate the involvement of external partners to co-discover, co-develop, test and scale their ideas.”
“As an organisation, we are committed to being innovative and human-centered when providing excellent care and experience for our patients, their families and our staff,” continues Chris. “The enthusiasm and determination for innovation that I see within the Trust is genuinely inspiring. We are well placed to respond to the growing desire to ramp up the pace and scale of change across the NHS to deliver better outcomes. CW Innovation has the potential to make a real and lasting difference.”