Intelligent Healthcare: the tech transforming the NHS

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Manchester-based technology company, Purple, is playing a vital role in the digitalisation of the NHS with its innovative ‘Intelligent Healthcare’ solution. Gavin Wheeldon, Chief Executive Officer, discusses the future of the healthcare sector and the vital tech required to drive this digital transformation.

This is a sponsored article.


As the world continues to recover from the crisis that is the Coronavirus pandemic, the healthcare industry is under immense pressure to catch up and keep up. With patient numbers reaching an all-time peak and 6.5m people on the waiting list for hospital treatment, healthcare providers are searching for solutions to stop the backlog growing even further.

Many are understandably resorting to people power to help solve the problem. As a result, a number of hospitals and facilities are continually inundated with waves of new, temporary and student staff. Staggering statistics show that hospitals in England spent more than £1.7billion on agency staff in the first three quarters of 2020-21 alone.

But what the healthcare sector needs are viable ways in which it can innovate, speed up and revolutionise its service to make things much more efficient – to ease the pressure on this growing employee base and to support the overall patient experience. The NHS 2022-23 business plan highlights an absolute dedication to “transforming care through harnessing information and technology”, with the overall strategy focussed on a “care […] to digitalise services, connect them to support greater integration and, with these foundations, enable service transformation.”


Driving the change

Purple are at the forefront of this digital transformation. Thanks to their ‘Intelligent Healthcare’ platform, Purple are able to help hospitals revolutionise for the long term. Their vital technology offers healthcare facilities large and small a range of different tech-led solutions; from real-time location of employees and wayfinding for patients to the launch of Purple’s innovative asset tracking technology.

Purple’s ‘Intelligent Healthcare’ platform

The latter was recently launched by the Purple team in order to provide staff with the ability to keep track of hospital assets such as drugs and apparatus in real time, through their phones. As an interactive ‘indoor Google map’, the platform’s integrated wayfinding hardware then enables them to navigate towards those assets in the hospital as required.


Speedy solutions and wayfinding tech

It is estimated that nurses spend at least one hour of every shift searching for critical pieces of equipment and medication, with only 31 per cent of their total time being spent with patients due to this admin.

As an asset tracking and navigation tool, Purple’s new digital capability will help increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve patient experience for healthcare organisations up and down the country, as well as in the US.

Not only will staff be able to closely monitor and reach their materials more quickly and efficiently, but hospital visitors and patients will also be able to find their way around the hospital much more swiftly, alleviating unnecessary stress and allowing them to focus on the priority of health.


Creating efficiencies

Using Purple’s technology, pharmacies and healthcare providers also have the option to track their medicines on site using mini tags which can help better manage their prescription services. By attaching a mini tag to either a medication bag or an individual vial, applying a BLE tag to a medication cart or by using individual badge tags on delivery personnel, medical providers can better understand where the medication, cart or personnel is located using a mobile device or portal. Upon arrival on site, pharmacies will be notified that medication has arrived by using Purple’s Geo Fences, which initiate notifications.

Purple’s asset tracking solution, combined with the wider intelligent healthcare package, has the potential to help the NHS address the £300m in lost medicine reported every year – money that could pay for more than 11,000 community nurses or almost 20,000 more drug treatment courses for breast cancer.


A trusted provider

With 60 per cent of British employees now using apps on their mobile phones to perform their duties to a higher standard, this shift to tech-first will be a key driver in the digitalisation and future of the healthcare sector.

Purple already provide Wi-Fi to a number of healthcare providers in the UK, including Croydon University Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust. As well as providing connectivity for patients, staff and visitors, Purple’s service it goes beyond the limits of everyday Wi-Fi, allowing for real time alerts and information sharing.

In partnership with VCU Health, their team were able to harness its wayfinding solution to create a personalised navigation app for all eight buildings and the VCU Medical Centre as well as its corresponding parking decks. Vitally, Purple’s resource here offers patients a downloadable route which can take them from their front door right to their appointment.

Their app gives a turn-by-turn direction to the exact unit or clinic location allowing patients to arrive on time and anxiety-free. Patients are also equipped with the ability to manually search for facilities such as food and dining and shops on site – and even return to their car or other saved locations.


The future of the sector

Without doubt, the increasing support required by the NHS and wider healthcare community is staggering. Fortunately there is a straightforward solution at hand. These technological advances will serve to alleviate nurses’ valuable time, reducing unnecessary admin and relieving some of the additional stress encountered in the workplace.

If Purple’s Intelligent Healthcare platform can go even part-way to bridging the gap in staff shortages and waiting times, it will have succeeded in its aim. Equipping healthcare professionals with the tools they need, will allow them to focus on delivering vital care, transforming the patient experience for the better.

Gavin Wheeldon, Chief Executive Officer, Purple
Insource Ltd, News, Partners

Insource chosen as trusted data partner for NHSE reporting by Tower Hamlets GP Care Group

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data management

Tower Hamlets announces Insource as managed services partner for automated data acquisition from EMIS and CSDS commissioner reporting.


Insource Ltd, a leading data management provider to the NHS, has been chosen by Tower Hamlets GP Care Group as its trusted data management partner. The first stage of the engagement will be to take data from the EMIS community system covering the 33 GP practices throughout the borough of Tower Hamlets, standardise it into a fully validated, single source of truth and automate the submission of Community Services Data Sets (CSDS) to NHS England.

Tower Hamlets GP Care Group is an independent healthcare group that brings together 33 GP practices and seven primary care networks to better support the local Tower Hamlets population. As a GP Federation, the group provide a number of primary care and community health services including 0-19 years Health Visiting and School Health, Out of Hours GP services, and the Urgent Treatment Centre based in the Royal London Hospital.

With the recent mandate from NHS England that all community providers formally complete the CSDS submissions, the GP Care Group found they were spending inordinate amounts of time doing searches on EMIS on their KPI activity and downloading CSV files to do the monthly reports for their 0-19 services.

Zainab Airan, Chief Financial Officer at Tower Hamlets GP Care Group CIC, commented, “Whilst we originally brought Insource on board to extract the data from EMIS for our CSDS reporting, we rapidly realised the value of that core data for our own performance and business management.

“The data tables from EMIS are all over the place. Insource takes that data, makes it clean and usable, and automates our monthly NHSE reporting. But now we also have near real-time activity data for our own use. We can sit our own systems, such as Power BI, on top of this unified data to get quite sophisticated analyses.”

This single version of the truth will also be shared with frontline staff, such as health visitors, so they can track where they are with their contractual KPI targets and see how many 1-year checks are due this week, or how many new birth visits are outstanding. It will give everyone from the executives to the frontline the same data at their fingertips. So all have better insight into how they’re performing and how to make service improvements.

The GP Care Group also recently won a tender for 0-19 services in the nearby London Borough of Waltam Forest, whose GPs also use EMIS. They now aim to mirror what they are achieving in Tower Hamlets, within Waltham Forest and ultimately do dual CSDS submissions to the two NHS Commissioners.

Insource are providing the data management and reporting solution as a fully managed service on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, initially across Tower Hamlets then, when needed, across Waltham Forest.

Zainab Airan concluded; “With over 500 staff, we are a medium sized independent care organisation, but chose not to maintain in-depth data management skills in-house. We prefer to leave the data management to the experts and to get on with our core business of clinical care. We are very excited about this project and Insource are doing a fantastic job. They truly are a trusted data partner that will allow us to scale as our business develops.”

Lee Bellis, Sales Director B2B Partnerships for Insource, stated: “The GP Care Group are innovative thinkers and have some exciting plans in the offing including expanding their services and potentially linking to children’s centres. But the big breakthrough here is being able to access proprietary EMIS data and making it usable, as an application-independent data source, for KPI tracking and internal performance management. This is big news for all GP and Community providers and is an obvious next step for Insource.

“We are seeing more and more of our customers taking up our managed services options. Our ground-breaking data management solutions and deep NHS knowledge, developed over 20 years, is proving very attractive to clients. Our multitude of NHS-tested data feeds is growing all the time and we can get even complex sites operational within weeks rather than months.”


About Insource

Insource leverages powerful data to help healthcare organisations drive better patient outcomes, streamline operational efficiency, and extract essential insight by ensuring all foundational data is accessible for informed decision making – despite the legacy infrastructure.

Their leading elective care solutions suite supports the patient pathway management, statutory reporting, and capacity planning challenges of the whole organisation. With over 20 years’ expertise, more than 55 acute, mental health and community trusts, health boards, ICSs and independent providers currently use our services. The Insource data management platform enables informed trust-wide management, ICS insight and control, and partner solutions innovation.

For more information contact info@insource.co.uk.


About Tower Hamlets GP Care Group CIC

Tower Hamlets GP Care Group is an independent healthcare group that was formed in late 2013 to enable General Practices in the area to be more involved in the local commissioning of health services. It brings together 33 GP practices and seven Primary Care networks to better support the local Tower Hamlets population and to work alongside other healthcare providers in the Borough. As a GP Federation, the group provide a number of primary care and community health services including 0-19 years Health Visiting and School Health, Out of Hours GP services, and the Urgent Treatment Centre based in Royal London Hospital.

Employing over 500 staff, Tower Hamlets GP Care Group also leads the provision of innovative, high-quality, responsive and accessible health care services in the area and is one of six organisations that form Tower Hamlets Together, the borough’s health partnership. This brings hospital, community health, mental health, adult and children’s social services, public health, and the voluntary sector together to provide comprehensive health and social care to the community. This ensures a more coordinated approach to providing services, reducing duplication and improving the overall experience and outcomes for the patients who need them.

Cerner Corporation, News

A waiting list approach flipped on its head

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waiting lists

This is a sponsored article.

Making the Patient Tracking List (PTL) available to general practice in North Central London (NCL) is proving to be an effective approach.


When thinking about how best to address the backlog of patients, it’s natural to only consider the locations where the patients will be treated, but Amy Bowen, director of system improvement for NCL, says her team saw the value of involving primary care in the conversation. “Initially, everyone considered the PTL from secondary care, but we thought ‘let’s flip it on its head’,” she says.

The approach uses funding from the NHS’s elective accelerator sites initiative to form multi-disciplinary Proactive Integrated Teams (PITs) that can access the PTL using the elective recovery dashboard in the Cerner population health platform, HealtheIntent®.

waiting list
Figure 1: Northern Central London (click to enlarge)

Like a Formula 1 pit crew supports a racing car driver, the objective for the PITs is to use data to optimise and maintain a person’s health while they await treatment. The need is very real across the NCL catchment area, with over 100,000 people having waited over a year for treatment and 300 waiting for more than two years.

The Patient Tracking List is a forward-looking management tool used by the NHS to monitor Referral to Treatment (RTT) and diagnostic waiting times for all patients across England. Even before the pandemic, demand for hospital treatment was outstripping capacity and, with the pressures on delivering care over the past two years, this has led to increased backlogs and longer waits. By April 2022 there were more than two million patients waiting over 18 weeks, with over six million in total waiting for treatment.1

The effort leverages the holistic and long-term nature of the primary care relationship to support people on the PTL. “GPs get the concept easily and they welcomed the fact we were making bandwidth for this,” Bowen says. “This stuff floats my boat because it’s giving people a data-driven, health-inequalities-focused rationale for working together.”

The elective recovery dashboard utilises integrated data from across the system – including primary care – to provide a rich system-to-person view of the elective waiting list. This assists primary care and community teams to prioritise cohorts and more effectively manage patients on the waiting list.

The idea was conceptualised by Katie Coleman, clinical lead for primary care, who says that delivering person-centred and coordinated care is the aspiration of everything she does as a GP.

For Coleman, the PITs are primarily aimed at improving the health of individuals on the waiting list so they can “wait well” and be ready for the procedure when their turn comes up.

“If we can get upstream with their care and identify the things that might prevent them from actually having their surgery, we could then potentially ensure that when they do hit the top of the waiting list that they are in the best space possible,” Coleman says.

The second key element is looking at the wider determinants of health and how a person’s condition impacts their day-to-day life – for example, a person waiting for a hip replacement who is unable to work due to pain.

“If we identify those critical cases that if they don’t have their procedure, they might be at risk of spiralling down that social ladder, we would look to try and help to escalate them and to reprioritise their position in the waiting list,” says Coleman.

The approach is expected to lead to a number of benefits – not only improved health outcomes for the population, but also cost savings for the NHS.

“If you can maximise people’s wellbeing in advance of their procedure, then we know from the research that they have a shorter inpatient stay,” Coleman says. “They have a shorter rehabilitation period, so they’re able to get back up and doing what they need to do quicker.”

Enabling people to get back to work sooner reduces the need for social care and sick leave, and can lead to increased productivity in the workforce.

“Also if we support people to lose weight, bring their blood pressure under control, support them to achieve improved diet, sugar control if they’re diabetic, and so on, all of this over time will also help to drive down the risk of complications,” says Coleman.

“And that obviously has cost savings for the inpatient stay, but also cost savings potentially for the system as a whole.”

NCL’s five boroughs have identified priority cohorts and are working to improve the experience for both patients and care professionals. For example, Haringey is stratifying patients with a diagnosis of severe mental illness combined with two or more long-term conditions.

waiting lists
Figure 2: NCL’s Proactive Integrated Teams Approach (click to enlarge)

Jalak Shukla, clinical pharmacist and director of operations for the Haringey GP Federation, says the rationale for this was to provide additional support to patients who are less likely to attend for their procedure when they get to the top of the list.

“It’s a proactive approach, but we’re managing a caseload of patients identified for surgery, making sure they make it, looking after them after the surgery in the communications that they should be receiving, plugging them into the right services, and then putting them back into the care of general practice,” Shukla says.

“All of it’s proactive, all of it’s taken care of and then they can go back to business as usual, accessing the system when they need it.”

An additional benefit of the PITs is the relationship building between primary and secondary care, especially given the fact that post-COVID recovery work is a high priority across the system.

“We know secondary care can’t do it on its own,” Shukla says. “Looking at that list jointly is showing how the system is going to work better together, with primary care picking up what it can to ensure that patients are optimised in the interim.”

The proactive population health management enabled by HealtheIntent is encouraging clinicians to think differently about caseload management.

“We can actually do a one-size-fits-all review for patients and that’s only possible because we’ve got this shared platform,” Shukla says. “The filtering of which long-term conditions they have, their clinical context, their background, their age, the number of contacts that they might have had with the system – all of that data allows you to get a high-level view of what’s going on in your own PCN [primary care network].”

Moving forward, Shukla expects this type of approach to be adopted beyond elective recovery, particularly because of the holistic nature of the approach.

“I think it can make a patient’s journey a lot less fragmented,” she says. “Let’s deal with the long-term condition issues. Let’s deal with the social care issues. Let’s sort out the issues they have with referrals with secondary care. And let’s do it all at once.”

As systems continue to explore ways to meet the demand of the backlog of patients awaiting elective treatment, innovators across the country are using data to help prioritise, optimise and reduce redundancy.


To learn more about how Cerner solutions can support your organisation please visit their population health management solution page.


1 Number of patients waiting over 18 and 52 weeks for consultant-led elective care and number of people on NHS waiting lists for consultant-led elective care | Source: www.bma.org.uk

News, Toshiba Carrier UK Ltd

Decarbonising hospitals: Toshiba’s new generation air conditioning system

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decarbonising

This is a sponsored article.

The latest version of Toshiba’s flagship Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) air conditioning system delivers a significant reduction of up to 80 per cent in equivalent carbon emissions.


SHRM Advance, the latest version of Toshiba’s flagship Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) air conditioning system, operates on lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) R-32 refrigerant. The combination of R-32’s lower GWP and reduced refrigerant charge enables SHRM Advance to deliver a significant reduction of up to 80 per cent* in equivalent carbon emissions, while reducing hospital running costs and delivering outstanding comfort for patients and staff.

Toshiba Carrier UK Ltd (TCUK) is a joint venture between Toshiba Carrier Corporation and Carrier, which is part of Carrier Global Corporation (NYSE: CARR), the leading global provider of healthy, safe, sustainable and intelligent building and cold chain solutions.

This all-new VRF air conditioning system gives hospitals an ultra-efficient, high-quality cooling and heating solution, enabling establishments to achieve best-in-class sustainability credentials, while reducing running costs.

“With the race to achieve net-zero, hospitals are under increasing pressure to minimise their carbon footprint,” said David McSherry, Head of Toshiba DX, Residential and Light Commercial, TCUK. “In addition to the significant sustainability benefits, as the price of R-410A – the refrigerant used in VRF systems to date – rises and availability falls, R-32 offers a very attractive optimum alternative, with significantly lower GWP, reduced costs and improved energy efficiency. SHRM Advance represents a win-win for healthcare operators and the environment.”

decarbonising
Toshiba’s SHRM Advance on R-32 refrigerant reduces air conditioning carbon emissions in commercial buildings by up to 80 per cent.

The new VRF system incorporates technical innovations that help enhance comfort performance and energy efficiency. These include the ability to select either three-pipe heat recovery or two-pipe heat pump operation, a new twin-rotary compressor with liquid injection, split heat exchanger, sub-cooling plate heat exchanger, a new high performance fan motor, and a unique thermodynamic circuit, all contributing to class-leading efficiency of SEER up to 8.9 and SCOP up to 4.67.

For system designers, a new generation of innovative flow selectors with up to 12 ports gives enhanced flexibility and optimises the ability of SHRM Advance to deliver simultaneous cooling and heating. This is controlled automatically, enabling seamless energy transfers between areas of the building requiring heating and cooling, ensuring a comfortable and productive indoor environment at all times, whatever the weather outside.

An advanced heat recovery function provides heat to the indoor unit with minimal input from the condensing unit, further improving energy efficiency and helping to minimise carbon footprint. If required, SHRM Advance can also be customised to operate as a two-pipe heat pump system.

For installers, the fully packaged SHRM Advance is available in 8 to 24HP capacity units, giving flexibility to meet the needs of any commercial building project. A new compact chassis height of just 1.69m helps integration on site, while it is possible to connect up to 69 indoor units per system. A full range of 13 different types of indoor unit are available, from 0.3 to 10HP capacity.

As well as conventional indoor units, SHRM Advance is available with a fresh air ventilation duct and a medium temperature water module. Supported by a 70-200 per cent diversity ratio, full system customisation is possible to overcome site-specific project constraints.

For applications requiring enhanced levels of indoor air quality, Toshiba’s one-way and four-way cassettes offer plasma/ionizer air purification, while the high-wall unit has an ultra-pure filter.

Safe operation is a key design priority and is ensured by an advanced integrated leak detection and shut-off valve system. To ensure regulatory compliance at the design stage, equipment selection software takes account of mandatory requirements, based on floor area and refrigerant quantity. For each proposed project design, it gives installers and consultants full guidance to ensure regulatory compliance and ensure total peace-of-mind.

Control is enhanced by Toshiba’s TU2C-LINK communication system, giving improved speed and connectivity. A full line-up of wired and central remote controllers is available, offering full compatibility with the new R-32 safety devices. Monitoring solutions include the Wave Tool Advance (available from App store and Google Play) and Link Adaptor, enabling quick and easy servicing.

“The world is heading toward a decarbonized future. SHRM Advance enables hospitals to contribute to the decarbonisation effort, while saving money and ensuring excellent comfort conditions throughout the year,” added David McSherry. “For both new-build and refurbishment projects, the system is a major step toward net-zero, and it is available now.”


*Compared with similarly sized R-410A systems. The precise percentage will depend on the system design for each installation.

Will ICSs overcome traditional barriers to digital adoption?

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digital adoption

Paul Johnson, Co-founder and CEO of Radar Healthcare, speaks with ICJ on the need for integrated care systems (ICSs) to overcome traditional barriers to digital adoption and the key to partnering with the health and social care sector.


It is a more than a well-documented fact that health and care have lagged behind other sectors when it comes to digital adoption. “Often when you engage with a healthcare organisation, they are used to doing things that are chronic, that involve labour-intensive manual processes and as such, you often find they have structured themselves accordingly to these types of processes,” says Paul Johnson, reflecting on why health and care has taken so long to develop true digital momentum.

“As a result of these structures, digital readiness and understanding of what a digital system can bring is not always there within health providers.”

Paul, who has a passion for the impact technology can bring, co-founded risk and quality software provider Radar Healthcare with Lee Williams in 2012. The company’s award winning software is currently used by over 70,000 users across several health providers in the UK and abroad. The software manages incidents, action plans, audits and helps control risk. Radar Healthcare’s analytics module uses AI and machine learning to collate this data to improve safety and quality of care.

“There can be a tendency to overcomplicate approaches to digital innovation.”

Paul Johnson, Co-founder and CEO, Radar Healthcare

Reflecting on the genesis of the software, Paul shares, “after we began working in health and care, it didn’t take long to recognise that the sector was in need of systems that were able to properly manage risks and satisfy auditing, compliance and quality while improving safety.

Ironic positives can be taken from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, when gaps in digital readiness and capability were spotlighted across the sector. This shift towards digital solutions has seen new suppliers enter the market. In many ways, firms such as Radar Healthcare have found themselves using their unique position within the sector to help improve understanding around the benefits that technology could bring. “Even internationally, that mix of being in all the healthcare sectors and providing an end-to-end solution has now put us in a good position to advise, guide, and be a part of supporting ICSs as they develop”.


Key to partnering with the health sector

“There can be a tendency to overcomplicate approaches to digital innovation, particularly when we’re discussing systems such as AI or machine learning,” continues Paul. “In reality, we have found that the most valuable commodity within health and care is people’s time. Systems and initiatives that can reduce the time spent on administrative tasks will deliver immense value.

“Fundamentally, what we are trying to do is to help providers deliver the best care. We do that by providing them with data to make informed decisions about their system and use technology that will help them drive greater independence for patients and end users.”

“I’m positive about the initiative of integrated care, but fearful of the outcome.”

Paul Johnson, Co-founder and CEO, Radar Healthcare

While the end goal will always centre around delivering a better experience for staff and patients, Paul insists there is no one-size-fits-all to deploying digital systems; “probably 90 per cent of the deployments we work on will never be the way that the provider originally envisaged. When we work with the customer and we do it in a partnership, we don’t dictate as to what the system should be; we tailor the system accordingly.”

Paul states that, while Radar Healthcare’s software is a highly configurable platform that can be tailored to quite specific needs of trusts and care providers, it would never be beneficial to sell a system to somebody if it wasn’t going to help deliver a better outcome for patients. “We always start by asking, what is it that you’re looking to achieve? What is the outcome that you want to bring about? We’re so passionate about making a real difference.”


Digital integrated future

On the current progress of ICS development, Paul notes a certain sense of apprehension in certain corners of the sector, saying: “I’m positive about the initiative of integrated care, but fearful of the outcome.”

Software solutions like those offered by Radar Healthcare offer the chance for full digital integration across an ICS. The software can support each part of the system to work collaboratively, while also making intelligent use of data and information. It can be used not only to make preparations for CQC inspections, clinical audits, and incident management and to improve internal communication, but also to manage complaints and administer patient satisfaction and staff surveys.

“We are already seeing decisions getting tied up in governance and who has the authority to procure against what.”

Paul Johnson, Co-founder and CEO, Radar Healthcare

With a system like this, it is possible to create a consistent approach for managing governance processes and have full assurance that no matter what part of the ICS, both negative and positive events are being investigated and actioned and people are learning, improving and sharing feedback.

“The luxury of providing a platform such as [Radar Healthcare’s] is that it positions us extremely well to highlight where technology could be adopted better,” says Paul.

As one representative from Somerset NHS Foundation Trust put it: “The way Radar Healthcare links across all streams of work and pulls them together is like a big jigsaw built around the patient.”

While generally positive about any move to integrate disparate parts of the sector together, Paul suggests that the size and makeup of ICSs could hinder agility when it comes to implementing solutions at ground level.

He explains: “I worry that they almost become like individual oil tankers, so they won’t have the agility to implement initiatives to create tangible gains made in the short term, because we are already seeing decisions getting tied up in governance and who has the authority to procure against what.

“That’s my only fear, that they will not have the ability and agility to make quick decisions that can improve patient care. I just hope we’re not moving the furniture around again.”


Metrics for future digital success

Scepticism about the future success of integrated care can be partly put to a lack of established metrics for what good outcomes actually look like, and whether Key Performance Indicators should be rooted in population health outcomes in waiting targets or elsewhere.

“Very few can definitively say what the KPI is for an ICS. If you are going to measure yourself, it’s no good saying, ‘well, we’re going to improve healthcare outcomes’ without something that truly defines system success.”

For Paul, a crucial component of ICS success will be whether they are able to address the disconnect between providers and suppliers and bridge different understandings of KPIs and metrics. Integral to this will be whether the system can use companies such as Radar Healthcare to help establish clearer metrics for success that are relevant to that locality. It is superfluous to measure success if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.

Effective use of reporting software and other digitally enabled tools can help join services together at a ground level to enable tangible patient improvements. Harnessing such technology will be a crucial part of the integrated care jigsaw.

How Tunstall Healthcare is investing in the leaders of the future 

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Global market leading health and care technology company, Tunstall Healthcare is investing in the next generation of health, housing and social care professionals with the launch of a new range of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accredited courses.


Part of ‘Tunstall Academy’, the online courses have been developed by Training Accreditation Programme (TAP) and CIPD accredited trainers. The courses aim to strengthen the knowledge and expertise of professionals in a range of areas related to health and care technology. The first courses available focus on telehealth and a range of other courses relate to the remote management of specific long term conditions including COPD, heart failure and diabetes. A Telecare Assessor course will be available soon, which will be followed by a number of other telecare-focused courses.

Gavin Bashar, UK Managing Director at Tunstall Healthcare, commented: “The role of technology in adult social care has been radically reshaped over the past couple of years, leading to 63% of directors in adult social care reporting that their local authorities are implementing positive investment strategies in digital and technology.

“We must therefore work to upskill staff members in these sectors to improve care service delivery, facilitate collaboration, and build a bigger and better workforce post-Covid. Our specialist training team works closely with participants to help them get the most out of technology for their own organisations and the people they support, and ensure they are ready to make the most of a more digital future as we transition to a fully digital communications network.”

CPD courses enable professionals to stay up to date with current and best practice in their chosen field, enhancing their skills and effectiveness in the workplace. Tunstall also offers a number of non-CPD accredited courses which can be delivered online or in person, designed to upskill people working in monitoring centres and group living environments as well as those delivering telecare and telehealth services.

All courses are designed for a range of learners, from beginners to advanced professionals, and can also be configured to develop skill sets for particular job roles, as well as achieving broader personal and organisational objectives, such as meeting TEC Services Association standards and enhancing customer experiences.

Andy Hart, Head of Technical Delivery and Support at Tunstall Healthcare, added: “People are the greatest asset of any organisation, and at Tunstall we have a responsibility to drive change across the sector as a whole. We are committed to educating and upskilling the next generation of professionals in the use of telecare and telehealth technology to modernise our health, housing and social care systems.

“Technology enabled care solutions (TECS) support individuals to live independently for longer and alleviate pressures on care and health services. It’s crucial that professionals are aware of the benefits of technology within service provision so that it can be deployed effectively, and education plays a key role in achieving this.”

Tunstall Academy brings together a range of initiatives designed to raise awareness of the value and potential of technology across the health, housing, and social care landscape, and to increase the benefits to users, carers, professionals and providers.

To find out more about the training services available, please visit www.tunstall.co.uk/training-services.

A person-centred, digital first approach to recovery

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digital first

Ensuring that patient pathways are digitally enabled and person-centred is critical to tackling the elective backlog, writes Patricia Wynn, Director and Sales Leader, International Public Sector Health, Cerner Corporation


NHSE guidance states that “our ambition is to improve core digital and data services in hospitals to ensure we have the basics right.” A leading EPR provider in the UK and globally, Cerner supports systems to reach the minimum digital foundation and strive for HIMSS Stage 7 and beyond.

Cerner work across provider collaboratives to enable shared instances of the EPR. ICS-level collaboration reduces total cost of ownership and enables sharing of resources, such as PMO, training, back office and support. For example, a shared instance of Cerner accelerated provider collaboration across North West London ICS.

Imperial and ChelWest began sharing a domain in 2019 and now London North West and Hillingdon are set to join. According to Kevin Jarrold, ICS data and digital lead, “we have a growing agenda around collaboration across care pathways and the shared domain is absolutely fundamental.”

A shared domain has enabled NWL to gain efficiencies and generate much-needed capacity. Leaders can see across the system and transfer patients more effectively from one site to another. Virtual ward capacity is also managed centrally and embedded into the core EPR. Remote patient monitoring is leveraged from a variety of vendors, with all data feeding centrally into virtual wards created within the core EPR, enabling more efficient workflows and the sharing of virtual care staff.


Prioritising care

The national guidance outlines care must be prioritised based on clinical urgency, the impact of waiting on individuals and potential inequalities. To achieve this, North Central London (NCL) ICS uses Cerner HealtheIntent®, a data and analytics platform that provides a single longitudinal record for every citizen, comprising data from all health and care organisations across the ICS.

According to Amy Bowen, director of system improvement, “[We built] an elective waiting list dashboard in HealtheIntent. Now we can show GPs for the first time ever what their waiting list looks like. We can cut that data by all the demographic factors, e.g. how many people have long-term conditions and how many? We can look and see by ethnicity, by deprivation – we can combine several factors. And we can actually understand that population at a practice level, at primary care network (PCN) level; by specialty, by borough.”


Transforming care

NHS guidance outlines transformation should focus on flexibility, ease of access and citizen control. Re-envisioning patient pathways – and ensuring they are digitally enabled and person-centred – will be critical. Royal Free London (RFL) has standardised and digitised 40 pathways.

Cerner experts are involved from the beginning of pathway design. Dr John Connolly, CEO of the Royal Free Hospital and group director of clinical pathways shares, “The goal of this ambitious programme is to ensure every patient can get the same high-quality treatment in any of the Trust’s three hospitals… and to create value for the entire healthcare system in the locality – not just our hospitals, but also primary care and public health services in an area that has high levels of deprivation.”


Supporting patients

Ultimately, a person-centred, digital first approach must include the person at the centre. Cerner Patient Portal UK, delivered in collaboration with Induction Healthcare, enables interaction and engagement between caregivers and their populations. A prostate cancer survivor in the Wirral explained, “I cannot emphasise how much the patient portal has improved the quality of my life. Those two weeks of waiting – the stress of revisiting the room where I was given my diagnosis – all that is gone now.”

NHSE’s operating priorities will not be achieved by overworking caregivers and staff, but by enabling them to work smarter and more collaboratively. Contact Cerner Corporation if you share a belief in the power of technology-enabled transformation and want to discuss how Cerner can support your system as in tackling the unprecedented backlog of demand.

Why is technology underrepresented in the training of health, housing and care professionals?

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training

Andy Hart, Head of Delivery and Technical Support at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses why educating health, housing and social care professionals is vital to meet the needs of our growing and ageing population.


People today are living much longer. It’s recently been reported that the UK’s population hit a record with over-65s overtaking under-15s, and by 2030 it is estimated that 1 in 6 people globally will be aged 60 years or over.

But living longer does not necessarily mean living more healthily. Long-term health conditions are more prevalent in older people, with approximately 15 million people in the UK requiring health and social care services for chronic illnesses.

Andy Hart, Head of Delivery and Technical Support at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses why educating health, housing and social care professionals in the benefits and appropriate use of technology is crucial if we are to improve service provision, and why technology continues to be underrepresented in training.


Why technology is underrepresented

The urgent need to invest in preventative services and early interventions to reduce pressures on our services is being increasingly recognised. In fact, almost two thirds (63 per cent) of directors of adult social care recently indicated that their local authorities were taking positive investment strategies in digital and technology.

However, large-scale change involving health and care technology is complex and presents many challenges for the stakeholders involved. Key barriers to successful digital evolution include the budget constraints and the cost of implementing new systems, organisational attitudes towards risk, and the relationships that exist between health, housing and social care services.

Most of these barriers can be mitigated through greater training and the education of professionals. Greater education will help to build partnerships, maximise the use of data, drive cultural change and bring staff on the digital journey, whilst supporting them in their roles.


Investing in education

People are the greatest asset of any organisation and, like any other asset, they need investment and maintenance. The next generation of health, housing and care leaders require support if they are to continue to develop themselves, and therefore their teams and services.

The education of professionals within these sectors is crucial in enabling a cultural shift so that staff understand the value and use of technology, and how it can support them in effective caregiving, as well as improving the quality of life of the people being cared for.

With the right education staff should reap a number of benefits, including becoming more aware of the features of telecare devices, developing confidence in assessing and referring end users to the right solutions, and understanding the positive impact of telecare on working practices.

As the Occupational Therapy programme lead at the University of Lincoln, Carol Duff is significantly involved in the education of Occupational Therapists. She commented: “It’s very important that we give our students the opportunity to gain practical confidence in the use of digital solutions in a safe setting that are essential to support their practice in health and social care.

“Technological solutions may mean our patients are able to remain safely at home for longer and avoid or delay moving into hospital or into care. It is essential that our occupational therapists of the future can confidently and creatively explore digital solutions that may also reduce pressure on the system and release time to care.”


A digital future

With the impending changes to our telecoms network, digital is fast becoming the industry standard to ensure the safety of health and social care services, staff and end users.

New kinds of leadership will be needed to deliver change and evolve governance, while at the same time improving the working lives and motivation of employees. Cementing a cultural shift towards technology driven, outcomes-led approaches is required to achieve this, and in turn, this needs early engagement from professionals and an understanding that technology is designed to provide support, rather than to replace.

By harnessing the benefits of training and education, we can raise awareness of the value and potential of technology across the healthcare landscape, and provide enhanced support to users, carers, professionals and providers.

For more information on educating the future generation of health, housing and social care professionals, please visit www.tunstall.co.uk/training-services.

Capita, News

Reducing trauma for radiotherapy patients

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The London Clinic is pioneering temporary markings as a replacement for alignment tattoos to help reduce the lasting trauma of radiotherapy treatment.


The London Clinic is one of the UK’s largest independent hospitals, providing medical care to thousands of patients every year and treating a range of diseases and conditions including cancer. As a charity, it continually reinvests in its facilities and technology, seeking to offer the latest advances in cancer diagnostic, treatment and support services.

However, it was not pioneering new technology that saw The London Clinic win the 2022 CHKS Top Hospitals award for innovation. Rather, it was their out-of-the-box thinking, allowing radiotherapy patients the options of having non-permanent alignment tattoos, which caught the attention of the judges.


Challenging the requirement for permanent alignment markings on patients receiving radiotherapy treatment

In its cancer management, The London Clinic declares that it is committed to giving patients choices in their care and always seeks to apply the latest technologies available to facilitate this. Radiotherapy provision is an innovative area, but one aspect of treatment has not moved with the times. This is the practice of tattooing patients who are undergoing treatment.

During the treatment process, radiographers can make between one and five permanent tattoo marks on a patient’s skin to help line up the radiotherapy machine and ensure the same area is treated each time. These tattoos can become a lasting reminder of a traumatic time and can negatively impact body image.

The London Clinic heard from some breast cancer patients who were unhappy with the aesthetic outcome of these tattoos given their location and especially as on occasion the ink can run or bleed under the skin. Patients said this constant visual reminder and effect on aspects of everyday life, such as clothing choice, had a negative psychological impact on their recovery. Their experience was mirrored by one of the keynote speakers at the 2019 Radiotherapy Society Conference.

As a society member and radiographer who had undergone a personal cancer diagnosis herself, the speaker was able to candidly describe the lack of choice or alternatives to tattoos. The London Clinic’s Pre-Treatment Superintendent attended the conference and was motivated to ask on her return: “Why do we still do this?” and “Is there something else we could be doing?”

While sophisticated Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT) and Surface Guided Radiotherapy (SGRT) techniques exist, which are less reliant on tattoos, the majority of cancer treatment centres still use them. Over the last few years alternatives have been explored and are in use such as ultraviolet (UV) tattoos and surface-guided radiotherapy and non-ionizing optical devices. However, uptake of these alternatives has been slow, either due to the additional resources or investments required.

By thinking of novel solutions, the radiotherapy team at The London Clinic was able to come up with an innovative way of marking patients for treatment.

Instead of permanent tattoos, pen marks were drawn onto the skin and covered with transparent film dressings. A map of the exact positioning of the marks on the body was reproduced on a sheet of clear acetate as a guide. Daily online imaging was implemented and acted as a control for positioning and verification of treatment accuracy.

This innovative alternative enabled the radiotherapy team to offer tattoo-less treatment which neither compromised patient care nor was constrained by resource or investment pressures. Through extensive auditing, the team identified no additional or significant difference or issues in set up, and that the new method was as accurate as tattooing.

“This innovation in practice has made a significant impact on the way we deliver breast treatments at The London Clinic. It is not the latest or the most expensive innovation, but it provides the patient with a better journey and more choice.”

Deirdre Moran, Quality and Development Superintendent for Radiotherapy and Medical Physics, The London Clinic

This meant that they could confidently tell patients that going tattoo-less would in no way compromise their treatment. Treatment times did increase slightly, but it was concluded that it was not of a magnitude which would outweigh the benefit of providing patient choice.

”Winning the 2022 CHKS Top Hospitals award for innovation helps convey that with very little investment it is possible to change the landscape of cancer care. The ability to offer tattoo-less breast radiotherapy has made a significant impact on our patients’ experience and will contribute to improved body image and self-esteem post treatment for years to come.”

Deirdre Moran, Quality and Development Superintendent for Radiotherapy and Medical Physics, The London Clinic

The tattoo-less option has featured positively in patient feedback and generated numerous patient enquires leading The London Clinic to share its technique and methods with other radiotherapy departments to further encourage those who were considering making the change.

To find out more, please get in touch healthcaredecisions@capita.co.uk or visit capitahealthcaredecisions.com 

Digital communications tool provides solution for healthcare data protection

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healthcare data protection

Joost Bruggeman, former surgery resident at Amsterdam University Medical Centre, and CEO and co-founder of Siilo, discusses how secure digital communications tools can ensure patient confidentiality and solve healthcare data protection issues.


Instant messaging apps have become essential tools in our daily lives – their convenience, reliability and sheer ubiquity have transformed how most people communicate, both socially and professionally. At the height of the pandemic, their value within the healthcare sector became even more pronounced, as they enabled rapid information-sharing to help medical professionals learn how to deal with a hitherto unknown virus.

In these circumstances, medical staff came to appreciate the benefits of being able to share details about individual patient cases, including photographs and other sensitive medical data. It facilitated timely and seamless collaboration, without which many more lives would have been lost.

The benefits of ‘off-the-shelf’ messaging apps, however, don’t come without risks. Within the medical sphere in particular, a mistaken message could put patient confidentiality and data protection in jeopardy, while threatening one of the most fundamental aspects of healthcare ethics.


Overcoming data protection issues

Since instant messaging apps are clearly of value within the health and social care sectors, a solution is needed to overcome data protection issues. In fact, this challenge was understood some time ago, and was a key influence behind the development of specialist healthcare apps such as Siilo, which places data security and medical compliance at the heart of its development.

Designed specifically for healthcare professionals, Siilo undertook the task of preserving the usability that people expect from the technology, while simultaneously ensuring that patient data could be exchanged safely and compliantly.

Paul Cowley, Chief Information Officer at St. John & St. Elizabeth Hospital (HJE) in St. John’s Wood, London, recognised the importance of adopting a messenger service which has been tailored to the healthcare sector’s unique challenges. “Timely, effective and safe patient care often requires rapid communication with multiple clinicians and sometimes offsite. A secure, easy-to-use app is needed to facilitate this level of care.

“While temporary guidance was issued during the pandemic that allowed the use of well-known commercial messenger services to help reduce the risk of patient care being compromised, as a hospital we recognised that such services increase risk both in terms of patient data security and patient care, particularly because of the need to anonymise communications wherever practical.”


Security and compliance

Unfortunately, many health and social care professionals and organisations are unacquainted with these issues. Indeed, a survey by the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) revealed that 88.3 per cent of its members regularly use commercial instant messaging apps, like WhatsApp, for sharing clinical information with medical colleagues, yet 29.3 per cent admitted they were unaware of EU data protection regulations. A further 46.7 per cent indicated there are no regulations in place at their institution regarding the sharing of clinical data via instant messaging.

Given that specialist tools have been developed, why are they not mandated among healthcare professionals? The problem is that many health and social care providers still don’t understand the risks involved with off-the-shelf messaging apps because of a simple failure to differentiate between security and compliance.

The basic promise of ‘end-to-end’ encryption, which is offered by the best-known messaging apps, certainly provides a strong element of security. It means the servers of the vendor cannot decrypt the message data even if they wanted to because they don’t have access to the encryption keys that belong to this encrypted data. However, this only applies to data while it is ‘in transit’ from one phone to another. What happens when the data is ‘at rest’, i.e. delivered to a phone or other device?

After a phone receives a message, several synchronisations take place with common messaging apps;photos and videos are synced automatically to the photo library of the phone, where the media is not encrypted; all conversations are backed-up by default and automatically go onto the cloud services of the phone provider – where message data is also stored unencrypted. As such, all these unencrypted conversations are exposed to unauthorized third parties.

Importantly, the professional who makes the decision to share information about their patient is always held responsible for protecting the patient’s confidential data. On a messenger app, this remains the same – the sender is always responsible and therefore needs to have control of what happens with the information on the receiving end of that communication. This control is often not possible and means many conversations taking place over common messenger apps are not compliant with medical confidentiality laws.

This is a huge problem because it becomes impossible for any healthcare professional sending an instant message on most services to be able to guarantee patient confidentiality. A way which is often used to get around this is to anonymise patient information within communications, but this also brings problems.

As recognised early on by Paul and his team at HJE, if healthcare teams cannot clearly identify which patient they are communicating about, it will almost certainly lead to confusion and mistakes. Since all healthcare professionals have sworn an oath to “do no harm”, this risk is often one not worth taking.


Communication and collaboration

For staff at HJE, Siilo has become a key tool in improving communication and collaboration between staff, and therefore improving patient care. A good example of this can be highlighted via its use in supporting the hospital’s Urgent Care Clinic (UCC), which is also helping to drive adoption in other departments.

“If a UCC doctor feels the need for input from a specialist consultant or the patient needs onward referral to a consultant, the UCC doctor can now use Siilo to contact a relevant specialist consultant rapidly and securely wherever they are.”

It is also proving to be an invaluable component in the day-to-day running of its medical team. “Siilo is now the ‘go to’ for some of our multi-disciplinary team meetings (MDTs). It solved a problem with a desire to increase the frequency of our MDT meetings without placing undue burden on the clinicians that contribute.

“It also allows ad-hoc MDT meetings where clinical circumstances dictate a patient’s case needs a review ahead of the next scheduled meeting. The messenger app allows clinicians to collaborate securely and contribute from whatever location they are working, regardless of their diary commitments.

We know the opportunities for the app are vast and since adoption, we are already seeing options becoming wider and wider, with more exciting use-cases being frequently put forward by staff.”

A growing number of healthcare organisations in the UK are recognising the tremendous benefits offered by digitalisation to the healthcare sector. While this is encouraging, it is essential that tools and technologies are truly fit to meet the standards expected. For communications technologies, this means applying absolute rigour to ensure patient confidentiality.


Joost Bruggeman is a former surgery resident at Amsterdam University Medical Centre and now CEO and co-founder of Siilo. For more information, please visit www.siilo.com.

For more information about St. John and St. Elizabeth Hospital, please visit: www.hje.org.uk