The NHSX National Innovation Collaborative podcast
Our Innovation Collaborative podcast series highlights how innovative technologies are being used to provide safe, personalised and more convenient care. The six podcasts are hosted by former Chief Digital Nurse Anne Cooper.
During the series, Anne talks to a range of people from the Innovation Collaborative about how they are scaling new technology across their regions, to support people at home to manage their health conditions and finds out what motivates them to drive forward digital transformation across health and social care, whilst taking an honest look at how lessons have been learned and barriers overcome.
Episode 1: South West’s ambition to become the most digitally advanced region in England
Dr Michael Marsh is NHS England's Medical Director and Chief Clinical Information Officer for the South West Regional team. Alongside his colleague, Dr Stephen Trowell, they have set themselves an ambition of becoming England’s most digitally advanced NHS region.
Michael and Stephen join us for this, our first episode, to delve a little deeper into that ambition, exploring why it’s important and what it means for patients.
Episode 1 transcript
Non-verbatim: Text adapted for improved readability
Anne Cooper: I don’t know about you, but I’m always inspired by great stories, about how people have done great work especially if it centres on empowering people to look after themselves at home well, supported by clinical teams. If you are like me you are in the right place. My name is Anne Cooper and I’m a nurse with a passion for how we use digital technology to help us to care for people. In this NHSX podcast series I will be chatting to people who have done just that. Come together and worked out how to use technology in new and innovative ways to improve care, all against the backdrop of a global pandemic. These are stories of clinical transformation with technology and they form part of the NHSX National Innovation Collaborative. If you want to know more about the collaborative please join the conversations on the National Innovation Collaborative workspace. You can find more information and a link in the show notes. So get your ears tuned in and get ready to be inspired.
Hello there. This is the first Innovation Collaborative podcast and I'm delighted that with me today are Dr Michael Marsh and Dr Stephen Trowell, who are both from NHS England and NHS Improvement Southwest. I'd like to start by asking them to tell us a little bit about themselves, Michael.
Dr Michael Marsh: Well, I'm a paediatrician by training. I specialised in children's intensive care. So in my clinical work, I used a lot of fancy equipment and certainly was engaged with seeing new developments come into care and see how they could transform what you do for your patients. I'm now the regional medical director for the south west of England and along with Steve, we have responsibility for the digital transformation of the NHS in the region.
Anne Cooper: Steve, what about you?
Dr Stephen Trowell: As Michael said Anne, I'm the director for digital transformation in the region, working very closely with Michael in the medical directorate, but by training, I was a physicist. So if you go back far enough in time, I started out building spacecraft and then moved on to designing, building MRI scans and then finally into working in the hospital environment and academia as well. So I've moved around a little bit, on a meandering path that's put me into NHS England now. But always in technology, so I got a deep interest in technology, particularly pushing the boundaries on what's possible. So it's actually interesting now to be in a slightly different world where the technology isn't necessarily cutting edge all the time. But there are other challenges in terms of deploying it and delivering that transformation that Michael described.
Anne Cooper: This is interesting. So in the south west, you're obviously part of the Innovation Collaborative and you've got high ambitions, haven't you, is my understanding. So why is it that you believe that innovation, digital innovation is something that you need and want to do?
Dr Michael Marsh: Our ambition is to be the most digitally-enabled region within the NHS in England. And I think our reason for that is with the combination of our background. So for me, close to critically ill children and I remember when I started my career - the monitors, the syringe drivers, the equipment we used - none of it connected to each other. And anything you wanted to know about what was doing, you had to record manually. And that included only the basic observations. And when children used to be referred to me from different hospitals, the only digital thing we had was the telephone to talk to each other. You couldn't share information, images, pictures, etc. And over the course of time, various innovations have changed that. So first of all I remember when we could transfer images of x-rays between hospitals - what a huge advance that brought. Then I remember when you could start to record from the monitor automatically onto a system that stopped you having to document with pen and paper what was going on. Of course, what you can see is that the logical development of technology is that all of those things that slowly can come together can be brought together. You can have more information available more easily, you can remotely look at patients who can improve their health care. So I think it's through healthcare that I was personally driven, as you could see how transformational technology can help you and that it doesn't have to be limited to people who are critically ill. I remember years ago my children, when they were teenagers, saying to me: “why do we have to go to a GP to talk to them about what's wrong when we can just have a conversation and then they produce a prescription?”. Now, that's a slightly narrow view of healthcare. But at certain times, that's all you need, a consultation and that of course can all be done electronically. Now, prescriptions can be done electronically. Healthcare could be, or even if they need medication, this can now be delivered to them remotely without getting in a car, spending hours waiting or minutes waiting. All these sorts of things can change. And so I think almost any aspect of healthcare from the highest technology and to the simplest interaction could be done differently, more effectively, efficiently and conveniently for the public.
Anne Cooper: So remote monitoring is a key part, isn't it? If the ambition that you have in the south west. Steve, can you tell us a little bit about what you've been doing?
Dr Stephen Trowell: You're right, remote monitoring is part of that landscape that Michael was describing in terms of the range of digital technologies that we're looking to develop and implement across the southwest, part of ambition of being the most digitally enabled region. Remote monitoring's part of it and I think we define that in its broadest sense. So that includes, for us, self-management of patients, as well as the active remote monitoring of vital signs from a distance. And in that sense, it covers the broad spectrum of the sort of low acuity people at home monitoring their own condition and folding that data flow into clinical processes is better than we have to date. Right through to a critical care example where you have someone who's clearly extremely ill but may be supported by a clinician who's remote from the bedside. So right across that whole spectrum and the sort of phases in between there, that's one of the areas we've been focusing on are the areas which are most critical to us in the south west from the point of view of most vulnerable patients. So during the COVID-19 outbreak, we were focused on the most vulnerable members of our society, and that included those with learning disabilities and some of the most elderly residents in care home environments in particular, not exclusively, but in particular focused on those cohorts of patients and individuals. So for us, we were then looking at how we can define packages of support for those folks in the most appropriate way. And that's not just monitoring their vital signs on a point by point basis that says, okay, we're going to measure your signs today and store that in a database somewhere. Obviously, that kind of remote monitoring technology is part of it. But more important to us was, as important, was the wider pathway redesign that goes alongside that data flow. So one of the examples that we've been looking at in the care home sector, to support the folks in home care, care home residents, is first we would put a reader on accessing clinical records in the care home environment. Which does a number of things, first of all, it can start that transformation process around interacting with that resident in a different way, whether that's visiting a GP, district nurse or geriatrician from an acute environment, whoever may be interacting with that resident. As well adding that layer on top of that, the remote monitoring aspects of what we're doing. So then that's some of the data to go into that reads the right clinical record. And that gives us the ability then to look at a holistic pathway redesign across the support that's in there for that patient. So it's not just about the technology to monitor the vital signs, it's around looking at the pathway redesign from an end to end perspective, and not just for the resident in the care home, but also factoring in their relatives, their other carers, people who know them best and understand them best, because actually some of that insight that they have into what that individual needs can be far more insightful than a visiting physician, for example. So we've been looking at how we can best support people in that environment through a range of technologies.
Anne Cooper: Michael's outlined his vision and why he has a vision to use technology in that way. And you've outlined some of the things that you're doing. But in order to make that happen, it's clear to me that you need to be able to bring people along with you. And you've already started talking, Steve, about who some of those people are. How have you been doing that? How have you been bringing people along the journey with you?
Dr Stephen Trowell: You're right, that is critical. So, as always, with digital technology, it's less about the technology invariably and more about the people. It's the people that make the change, it's the people that implement it. It's people that then behave differently on the back of it. In a work setting the technology often is not the limiting factor in terms of what we can achieve. So in order to bring people along at a regional scale, that is a real challenge, as you say Anne, and and part of the way we've done that is building on something we've been doing over a number of years, which is recognising that our colleagues in the digital space across all of integrated care systems (ICSs) in the south west effectively are part of an extended team. It's not just us in the region doing it. Clearly a lot of the delivery is done by them out there and them being defined as individuals within a clinical commissioning group (CCG) or an acute trust in the care home sector. People on the ground doing the doing, that's where the actual change happens. Doesn't happen in my office or Michael's, it happens down on the ground by those folks working differently.
Anne Cooper: I think in both of those examples, it's interesting because you've got people with a learning disability who traditionally are quite often not cared for in the health setting. And you've got residents in care homes who are equally cared for in a different setting. So that must have been a challenge working across organisational boundaries.
Dr Stephen Trowell: Exactly right. And often the answers are often found, in part, not in the NHS. So reaching out to social care colleagues, charities, the voluntary sector, often these are key agents of change and can work alongside us and are already doing a lot of work in this space anyway. So part of our role as we see it is to coordinate that activity of both the NHS and non NHS people working in this sector around a common goal. And part of the work is defining that and being really clear what it is we're trying to achieve and when and aligning the resources appropriately.
Dr Michael Marsh: One of the real things that digital technology enables us to do is to integrate what effectively is fragmentation of services. So the NHS national health system, well, the health and care of people doesn't suddenly have a care need instead of a health need. And traditionally, as you probably know from your background, a resident in a care home or a nursing home that appears to become less well or not their normal self might trigger a call to a GP or even a call of an ambulance and transfer to a hospital. And as Steve's sort of alluded to, things are different, but it's not clear what. The worry is they're deteriorating and they need some health care intervention and if possible if that could be done whilst they stay in their place of care, their home I think for that vulnerable group who are often near the end of life, that's got to be better than finding themselves in a new, strange, confusing environment. And lots of evidence suggests their outcomes would be better if they were able to stay in their own environment and involve the right people. And I think it's even though it's digital, it ironically enables much more human care to be delivered.
Dr Stephen Trowell: Just on that human factor I'll add Michael, that, you know one of the things we've been doing over the last couple of years in the south west is really focusing on the behavioural change piece around digital transformation. So what are the barriers to change in transforming? Recognising it's rarely the technology by itself that's a barrier. So working with teams, whether in a GP practice or teams in a ward or whoever it may be that's operating as a clinical team, understanding what are their barriers to change, what are they worried about? What are their personal fears? What are the insecurities around that change? Trying to address those because we recognise that it may be the best technology in the world, but if people are concerned about using it on the ground, it's unlikely to succeed. So as human factors extend into the change process and implementation, and that's something we've been doing a lot of work on in the south west and got good learning coming out of previous projects and programmes that we then fold into the remote monitoring programme that we're talking about today.
Dr Michael Marsh: And of course, we need the public to change as well. I tell the story that in the last year with the COVID-19 epidemic, there has been a great engagement with technology, particularly amongst some people who may have been averse to it. My mother is 85, used Zoom for the first time in the pandemic, having flatly refused to have anything to do with a mobile phone, never mind a digital platform where you could see people. But you know, through that she was able to meet and talk not just to her grandchild, but her newly arrived great grandchildren, my first grandchild who was born in this. And having got over that barrier she sees the advantage and is quite happy to have Zoom calls now, she even has an iPad, which I never, ever imagined happening. So I think we need the professionals, but also the public to sort of embrace the change and not be frightened by it, because when you've done things a certain way you know how to drive to the GP practice and have a consultation, but you might feel oh how do I log on to a call to engage with them and will it work? And will I do it properly?
Anne Cooper: To link right back round then to where we started your part of the conversation, where you talked about your vision when you were a practising paediatrician and to your view now about the future, where are we? What can remote monitoring do for us in the future? What transformations can it achieve, do you think?
Dr Michael Marsh: Well, I think it can remove lots of the episodes of care as we might have them. So lots of outpatients activity where you go to hospital and you have a discussion and you look at either some blood tests or things like that, that can disappear or be transferred. Some things clearly will need to have direct contact still. Likewise, I think we can hopefully get a shift from health care moving from treatment to prevention, because if you take more responsibility for your own health and monitor things, you know, there is an opportunity to intervene earlier or to not even become ill. So I think those are some of the key ones. And the other thing is that I think at the other end of the complex care is getting access to care more evenly across the population. In a rural setting, sometimes it's more difficult to access health care than in a city setting. Likewise, in a city or a rural setting, if you're in a more deprived part of the community, you may not have such easy access. And there are worries about people being digitally excluded. I think you can recognise that at the beginning and do things to enhance access for disadvantaged or hard to reach groups but I can see it helping with that agenda as well.
Anne Cooper: What have been some of the most difficult parts of all of this?
Dr Michael Marsh: Some of it is getting people to change. Sometimes I think it's not the clinical teams, but the leadership teams. Sometimes it's been a case of identifying the funding that's necessary to initiate a change and also changing the delivery of health care where you're paid to do an outpatient episode, to deliver health care in a different way. People are uncertain about how to make an organisation work financially? But those again are all solvable issues and then I suppose the other really challenging thing is because the possibilities are infinite, the health service is big, the number of people involved, there is a complexity element of putting it all together and I think it comes down to, do you think or how do I solve it all? It can be overwhelming and we need to sort of break it down into bite size bits and slowly get the bits connected that you need to, get the pathways changed, get the cultures changed, you can get the adoption. Asd I reflect back, I couldn't imagine 25 years ago when you were excited about travelling. You'd have a ticket that had 17 illegible copies in red ink for your plane ticket and you'd turn up and book into the system. We now login, do it online and have a little QR code with a ticket on your phone and you check yourself. We should see similar changes in healthcare so it's so different, you look back and go, you did what?!
Anne Cooper: I think your ideas and your vision for what the future looks like are compelling really and I wonder if the Innovation Collaborative is about sharing and trying to make sure that we spread our ideas as far and wide as we can. What are you doing in the south west to share what you're doing in the collaborative?
Dr Stephen Trowell: We have a little mantra in the south west, as well as others do, but we pinch with pride. So although we talk about being the most digitally enabled region, our mission to achieve that is actually helped when other regions are doing digital things that we're not doing. Meaning that they can do some of that heavy lifting, the difficult work that is the early implementation, early sorting out of all the issues that Michael's described there, whether it's the sourcing, the funding or the commissioning and contracting arrangements and all of the things that need to go alongside digital transformation. If we can fast follow those teams elsewhere in the country. That's fantastic for us. So that's one thing in terms of benefiting from the collaborative space that the Innovation Collaboration has set up. Equally in terms of showing what we're doing, we're very open in publishing all of our information as and when we're discovering and working through it and very happy to facilitate ongoing conversations with other parts of the country around what we're doing. So one example of that is we are very interested in the ECG work up on Teesside. And I know the clinical leader's coming down to one of our workshops soon to discuss what they've done first hand, we can then learn very quickly, take advantage of their expertise and rapidly follow suit with what they've done, so that's a two way street. So it works both ways. So that's the power of the Innovation Collaborative for us is the ability to share detailed information, because as always, with these sorts of projects, the difficulty is the grit, it's the details that trip people up and act as barriers. And if we can uncover where that grit is and what the actual bear traps are and the details that can cause problems in the deployment or adoption of the technology, that can speed things up immensely.
Dr Michael Marsh: And one of the other things Anne is that if you're going to do anything in healthcare and you want to do it to the highest standards, you need to know what you're doing. And that doesn't matter whether it's delivering basic care to a patient in a bed. But you need to know what you're doing so we have to measure what we're doing. You then need to compare it to others, if others are doing it and see how you compare and look to improve it. So one of the other things is constantly looking to record what you're doing, document what you've done, look for the evidence of benefits and disbenefits or challenges, as Steve's just described, and then try to improve it, but also share that with others so people can go ohh maybe we can do that or can we can we copy that, because besides the sort of the things that we've already talked about, I think a lot of criticism of the health service before is, well, you couldn't even say how many operations you've done. Well, digital technology, the recording system, that's going to be a thing of the past. We will be able to document pretty well everything we're doing, have it recorded automatically fed into systems which will change that data into information to inform us what's going on, what you're doing and how well you're doing it. So that's another element where the digital transformation can help us really improve health care and deliver greater value for the public.
Anne Cooper: If you were to offer advice to the people who are following in your footsteps, what key pieces of advice would you offer? You go first Steve.
Dr Stephen Trowell: Key piece of advice, I think, would be to be really clear on the objectives, because as Michael described earlier, it's a huge potential landscape. Remote monitoring itself is a big subject across the entire health system and you could, you could actively work in that space for a lifetime. So I think being really clear, what's the priority? What are we trying to achieve now today, this quarter, this year? What are those outputs likely to be? What's the clinical impact of those? And also being really open about the disbenefits. You know, remote monitoring in particular we're very mindful of issues around loneliness, for example, where that clinical contact face-to-face might be the only contact the individual has. So being very open minded around this isn't a panacea for everything, but it has a role to play. And if we are clear in defining the potential outputs, describing the clinical impacts and understanding how that links into the wider health system performance and the impacts on the practitioners on the ground, health and performance financially and outcomes for patients fundamentally, then you stand a good chance of success. I think there's a danger in trying to change everything all at once because we're all very ambitious and we're all clearly impatient. We want to make these transitions and transformations as quickly as we can, but that is not possible to do it well. So it's being very precise and prioritising effectively based on clinical need rather than being led by the technology.
Anne Cooper: Thank you. Michael?
Dr Michael Marsh: Yeah, my advice would be, one, be bold. Don't don't limit your ambition to what you can think because your thinking is likely to limit what you can achieve. So be bold. I got some great advice from my son years ago when I said, "Oh I'm not sure I'm ready to do that big challenge". And he said to me, "What do you mean? You know, Alexander the Great was 32 by the time he conquered the world and died". So don't limit yourself to thinking you're not ready to do it. And then the third thing I would say is also look for the opportunities you don't get to choose when is necessarily the right time. So sometimes planets align, people are ready, and you've got to look for when it's the right time to do something, when the door's ajar push it open and also recognise when it's not worth putting all your effort pushing against that firmly locked, closed door because you lose loads of energy. So put your energy and your focus when you can on the opportunity that's going to work.
Anne Cooper: Thank you, both of you. That's a really inspiring story to hear. I'd like to wish you well with your projects. I know that you're working on the care home work actively and on the learning disability work, which I'm sure people can read about on the website, on the Innovation Collaborative website. So thank you very much for your time this afternoon.
Episode 2: How technology enabled remote monitoring has helped NHS teams across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
Last year, Barry James spent a month in hospital. Keen to get home, he agreed to use Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s technology-enabled remote monitoring service which meant that he could be cared for safely at home.
In this episode, Zoe Harris, Leicestershire Partnership’s cardio-respiratory service lead, joins Barry to discuss his experience of being cared for remotely using a technology platform and how the COVID-19 pandemic is driving forward the rapid expansion of remote monitoring schemes.
Take a look at the Remote monitoring for patients with chronic conditions in the Midlands case study to find out more about this project.
Episode 2 transcript
Non-verbatim: Text adapted for improved readability
Anne Cooper: I don’t know about you, but I’m always inspired by great stories, about how people have done great work, especially if it centres on empowering people to look after themselves at home well supported by clinical teams. If you are like me, you are in the right place. My name is Anne Cooper and I’m a nurse with a passion for how we use digital technology to help us to care for people. In this NHSX podcast series I will be chatting to people who have done just that. Come together and work out how to use technology in new and innovative ways to improve care, all against the backdrop of a global pandemic. These are stories of clinical transformation with technology, and they form part of the NHSX national Innovation Collaborative. If you want to know more about the collaborative, please join the conversations on the national Innovation Collaborative workspace. You can find more information and a link in the show notes. So, get your ears tuned in and get ready to be inspired.
Anne Cooper: Hello, everybody, how lovely to be here with you. We're here to talk about your experiences of using technology to improve clinical services. And I wondered if we could start with you, Zoe, and if you could tell us a little bit about yourself, but also what type of services you deliver.
Zoe Harris: My name's Zoe Harris. I am a nurse by professional background, and I've been working and providing care to patients with cardio-respiratory disease for the last 25 years. I'm now in the fortunate position to be the cardio-respiratory clinical service lead, and I lead three clinical services. So that's the heart failure specialist community nurses, the respiratory specialist service, caring for people with COPD and the heart failure and respiratory community rehabilitation teams.
Anne Cooper: And Barry, I understand that you are one of Zoe's patients. Would you like to tell us a little bit about you and your health experience?
Barry James: I'm an engineering lecturer. I work for a college. Two years ago, I had what the doctor said to me was a little fluid on the lungs. He sent me for an X-ray to The Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. They said to me, yes, you've got some fluid on your lungs, we might keep you overnight to do some tests on you, and that overnight extended to a month in hospital. Which was very traumatic for me, my wife and family, although they came to see me every day, it still was a worrying time for me as well as. I came out of hospital and then, it was amazing to smell all the different smells, the grass being cut, the flowers, everything, the blossom. So, then I was assigned a community heart nurse and she came to see me and she was very, very good. Her, and at the weekends I had another one, Emma. If I had any queries or instances where I was anxious about my condition, they put me at ease, put my family at ease which was very, very good. Then a couple of months after that, I got asked if I would go on the telehealth programme, so I agreed to do that. And that, again, has been very, very useful for me. Very, very useful.
Anne Cooper: Can I come back to you Zoe? Obviously, last year, the way that you delivered your services up to then suddenly became less possible, I guess. Is that right?
Zoe Harris: Yeah, it basically just changed overnight in the sense that none of us in living memory had delivered clinical services during a pandemic. And we care for people who are vulnerable, who have long term conditions, but also can also be older people and frail. We were fortunate in that Ageing Well provided some funding for us to be able to look at digital pathways so that we could deliver our care in an entirely new and innovative way, but also make that change really quickly, taking both the clinical team and our patients with us so that we could still absolutely care and support our patients with long term conditions, but reduce some of the face-to-face contact. So, in turn reducing the risk of cross infection between people.
Anne Cooper: That sounds like it was exciting but daunting at the same time. How did the team respond to that?
Zoe Harris: I think generally the team in Leicestershire and the community are just absolutely fantastic. They are senior clinicians, and they are from a multi-disciplinary background. So, it's a mixture of nurses and therapists. And I think that despite the fact that everybody was kind of worried about their own lives and their families, from a leadership perspective there, that really shone through for me. So, we kind of articulated that we would take a product off the shelf, but the clinicians would be able to input into shaping, making it right for our patients as the project continued, because having worked in the NHS for 25 years, clinical governance is tricky and usually takes us a long time to work through getting new innovations off the ground. However, what I would say in the pandemic was that clinical governance became far quicker, so we were able to do our checks and balances and deliver safe care far quicker than we'd ever been able to before. Because that's what we had to do to keep our patients safe in their place of preferred care with the hope that we would recognise they were exacerbating sooner and then hospital admissions would only be needed if absolutely necessary. So that was the whole kind of rationale behind the plan of what we were trying to do.
Anne Cooper: So how did you decide which patients might be able to work with you on this new project, a new way of working using technology?
Zoe Harris: So we basically cleansed the patient caseloads back in March and April when we knew that we would be using digital technology. So, anybody who was clinically optimised at that time, with their consent, was discharged with the caveat they could come back onto caseload. So, we focused very much on the patients that had a need at that time. So, Barry, being a patient in point, in that his care was being delivered by his heart failure nurse and he was offered the tech in July of 2020. So, as I say, we focused on patients with heart failure and COPD in terms of the first two clinical pathways to use technology with. And that was part of our core long term condition service.
Anne Cooper: So Barry, when they approached you, what happened? What did you think about what they were wanting to do?
Barry James: I thought it was a brilliant idea because it was safer because you're not going into the hospital. I could put my data into the computer every day as I was at the beginning. There was no infection that I could get because I was just sitting in front of my computer inputting the data. And I knew that the nurses were checking that daily, which was fantastic. And I've had calls on a Saturday afternoon from a heart nurse to say that one of your readings is quite low or quite high. And so, it's fantastic.
Anne Cooper: Tell me a little bit more about what you actually have to do, Barry. What recordings do you have to put into the system? How does it work?
Barry James: I do my blood pressure, my pulse, weight, and the oximeter.
Anne Cooper: Do you key those into the computer?
Barry James: I put those into a tablet daily and it asks you questions and then once a month you have some questions to answer. And with technology anything is only as good as the people using it. And one day I pressed the wrong key. And they rang me up and said, “are you okay”? And I said “I'm fine thank you. I just pressed the wrong key.” So yeah, it works. It works for me, which is fantastic.
Anne Cooper: And as you said earlier, you were at much reduced risk of getting covid infection because you were at home and safe. And I guess that that was a positive thing for you.
Barry James: Very much so. I mean, I got letters from the government saying that I was clinically extremely vulnerable. That initially makes you very, very you know, you don't want to go out of the house and things like that. But I knew that this way my data was being looked at and in fact, I spoke to the nurses more about my condition than the doctor which was reassuring.
Anne Cooper: And Zoe, the nurses had to adapt then to quite a different way of working.
Zoe Harris: They did. But I think that they were really adaptable and flexible in terms of their patient management. And I think it's really important to know that the technology, we describe that [the technology] as an adjunct to providing care. It's not. So that actually if a patient required a face-to-face physical assessment, that would happen. But we were trying to cut down some of the routine of clinical visiting that had happened before the pandemic in the way of home visits and clinic appointments. So, it became another armory in our clinical equipment of how we could deliver care whilst reducing some of the risk.
Anne Cooper: Barry, you seem to be quite tech savvy. Have I got that right?
Barry James: Yeah. I was until I pressed the wrong key on that.
Anne Cooper: We all do that.
Barry James: Yeah. Because I've been using a similar platform with my students. I used to have students come to the college from all over England, so it was digital, the e-portfolio. I've been using a similar platform for a number of years.
Anne Cooper: So did you have people who were less tech savvy than Barry and how did you deal with that?
Zoe Harris: To be honest we tried to make no assumptions about somebody's age or frailty in terms of their ability to use tech. What we did was in every single case, we went back to our patients and said this is something we can do, you can make an informed decision about whether you want to participate in your care being delivered in this way. And then we would set an individual management plan with the person which would then take into account any disability or special needs they had. So, for example, there was one gentleman, who I remember really clearly. He was ninety-five. He was visually impaired and basically he didn't have a smartphone. So, we provided him with a smartphone so that he could access the technology and then we would call into his home at a specified time on a daily basis so that his carers could give us the information. So, I think what we did with the cohort of patients that have gone through our care pathways, which is totaling a thousand now, is look at individual patient needs and plan the care around them. I feel incredibly proud of the clinical team that I represent because I just really feel like they really stepped up to meet the needs of our patients in a really tricky time.
Anne Cooper: I'm guessing that some of them may equally not be quite so tech savvy, so they'll have had to step up and learn too.
Zoe Harris: Definitely. And I think that we work with a particular tech company, and they've been really supportive. So, I would say that we've had a very sort of hand in glove operational relationship with them. And I think throughout the projects we’ve engaged with the tech company, our staff, and our patients to constantly reflect on what we were doing, what we were learning, what was the feedback, how can we enhance it in real time. So, it wasn't just we took a product off the shelf and that was it. We ran with it. We've developed it with patients throughout the year. So, I think that is part of, I don't know, I think it's been a successful project and why it's been successful to date, because we had that way of managing it.
Anne Cooper: So as you both know; the Innovation Collaborative seeks to share learning across different projects. What advice would you give other people who were looking at wanting to start a project like this? Start with Zoe and then come on to Barry.
Zoe Harris: I think that the digital agenda in healthcare was always coming. I think the pandemic has escalated the use of tech in the delivery of health care. And I think for me kind of now, nothing is off the table. So, yes, we started using tech with our patients with long term conditions, but we quickly extended that to developing a digital rehab programme for patients. So, despite the fact, as Barry said earlier, he was shielding in his own home, actually, we could provide exercise and education through a structured, clinically led programme in the safety of somebody's home. It's really important that people haven't become deconditioned while they've been shielding. And then we also delivered a Covid virtual ward to support patients on hospital discharge that were Covid positive, again, because that's what the system required and that's been really successful. So, I think I really feel like we were given a seed of an idea in a clinical team a year ago and we've kind of grown a garden centre, that is how I feel. We constantly thought about what our patients need, what can we do to work in a different way? So basically, now the ideas keep coming and we're starting to share that now as a system so that other care pathways can learn by what we've done and think about how that is possibly applicable to the care that they provide.
Anne Cooper: I love the garden centre analogy and I also love the fact that you're starting with what people need and then exploring how anything really can help you to better deliver care in that context. Barry, what about you? What would you say to people who were looking at doing something like this?
Barry James: For me, it's been fantastic. I live very close to Glenfield Hospital in Leicester so I'm able to get there. It's probably a mile away from me. But there were patients in the same ward as me who were from 30, 40, 50 miles away. So, this kind of platform is ideal for them. And I think moving forward, as Zoe said, some of the patients are older, so they're not used to technology. So, when you move in a couple of years’ time, people will be using technology, which is just part and parcel of the daily routine. So, I think it will get easier. But for me, it's, it's been fantastic, a real godsend.
Anne Cooper: As you know, the Innovation Collaborative is all about sharing, and that's what the podcast is about. Would it be possible for you both to share what your vision of the future using technology to deliver clinical services might be? What might it look like?
Zoe Harris: Yes, we're looking at having a virtual ward. I described that we'd had a virtual ward to support patients with Covid. However, what we're looking at in cardio-respiratory is that we have a virtual ward all of the time and we will flex the beds depending on what the needs of our patients are at that time. So, in autumn, winter times, that'll be a proportion of Covid patients on hospital discharge. But also, there is a place to either step up or step down from same day emergency care pathways and post hospital discharge. So, I think what we have learnt is that and it's a little bit obvious, probably, but if we provide support for patients on discharge, you have a real chance of them not going back into hospital from an emergency position because they feel safe and supported and they've got access to clinical teams. So, we're trying to bridge the gap for individualised patient support on discharge.
Anne Cooper: That sounds like a great initiative. People don't really want to be cycling back through into admission in hospital and would often much prefer to stay at home. So, I think that's really important work Zoe. So, Barry, can I just ask you, what do you think are the ongoing benefits of this type of delivering care to you?
Barry James: Long term for me, I realise that I can diagnose the signs or what I have to do with my medication. For instance, if my swelling in my ankles or my legs gets worse, I can take more diuretic tablets. If my blood pressure is high, I know that something is not normal. So, I can then contact my heart nurse and sort that out. So yeah, it's invaluable for me really.
Anne Cooper: It sounds to me very much like technology is empowering you to be able to look after yourself. Is that right?
Barry James: Yes, certainly is, yes. It's a brilliant innovation for me. Instead of pestering the doctors or the heart nurses all the while, it just gives me and my family peace of mind really.
Anne Cooper: That's fantastic. And Zoe, how does that make you feel as a nurse?
Zoe Harris: I think that's absolutely fabulous. I think a side effect of what we've done is that patients like Barry become much more aware of what's normal for them in terms of the slight nuances that their condition is exacerbating. And actually, at that point, if they seek help and treatment, then that has a real impact on getting better sooner. So, I think this is fabulous. And, of course, what clinical teams should be doing, because we just want to empower people to be able to self-manage after they are optimised and discharged from our caseloads. I mean that's a perfect scenario in my view.
Anne Cooper: That's fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing and also telling your story about how technology enabled care is an important part of the future. And as you know, we'll be sharing that on the Innovation Collaborative workplace. Thank you.
Anne Cooper: Thanks so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. And remember to follow the podcast series and sign into the Innovation Collaborative on the Future NHS platform.
Episode 3: How University Hospital Southampton is using technology to empower patients through self-management using a patient portal platform across Hampshire and Isle of White ICS
Ashwin Pinto is Consultant Neurologist and Chief Clinical Information Officer at University Hospitals Southampton NHS FT. Supported by the NHSX Innovation Collaborative, the Trust is accelerating tech enabled self-management for patients, giving over 25,000 patients use of a platform, enabling shared decision making and reducing unnecessary outpatient appointments by 20%.
In this episode, cancer patient Roger Burns joins Ashwin to chat about his experience of using the patient portal, specifically about how it has put his mind at ease regarding test results and sped up his communication with his clinical team.
Episode 3 transcript
Non-verbatim: Text adapted for improved readability
Anne Cooper: I don’t know about you, but I’m always inspired by great stories, about how people have done great work, especially if it centres on empowering people to look after themselves at home, well supported by clinical teams. If you are like me, you are in the right place. My name is Anne Cooper and I’m a nurse with a passion for how we use digital technology to help us to care for people. In this NHSX podcast series I will be chatting to people who have done just that. Come together and work out how to use technology in new and innovative ways to improve care, all against the backdrop of a global pandemic. These are stories of clinical transformation with technology, and they form part of the NHSX National Innovation Collaborative. If you want to know more about the collaborative, please join the conversations on the National Innovation Collaborative workspace. You can find more information and a link in the show notes. So, get your ears tuned in and get ready to be inspired.
Anne Cooper: Hello, everybody. It's really nice to be with you today. I'm going to, first of all, invite you both to introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about the project, starting with Ashwin. Do you want to tell us who you are and a little bit about My Medical Record?
Ashwin Pinto: My name is Ashwin Pinto. I am a consultant neurologist and the joint chief clinical information officer for the University Hospital Southampton trust. And we've been involved as a trust in personal health records for probably about seven years now, but really picking up the pace of development in the last 18 months or so.
Anne Cooper: Roger, how have you got involved in this work?
Roger Burns: I'm a cancer patient, prostate cancer patient. I'm retired. And in 2012, I was diagnosed with both rheumatic rheumatism and prostate cancer. And eventually in 2015, I was invited to join My Medical Record, which I did very quickly.
Anne Cooper: Do you want to tell me about what that has provided for you, Roger?
Roger Burns: Well, I suppose the important thing for me was the lack of having to chase results from either the GP or from the hospital, because what I can do now very simply, is I can get my PSA blood test results in about four hours, five hours after I've actually had the blood test. And this has been going on for five years now. And what you can see on the website is your history of results, there's a graphical output and it puts one's mind at ease because you don't have to chase the GP to find out what the result was. And they usually say it's OK, satisfactory, but not tell you the actual result. And I'm the kind of person who likes to know the result. But it proved beneficial to me in 2016 when my PSA, which I got the results for online, was creeping up slightly and then it passed the magic marker point of five. And so, the same day as I got the result, I used the internal messaging service within the app and sent a message to the oncology department and said, “What about this”? And I was pleasantly surprised to have a reply the same day and an appointment with the oncologist two weeks thereafter. And so, there was no delay. Now if I hadn't had that service, I'm sure it would have taken a few weeks before I was seen or even talked to.
Anne Cooper: It must give you great peace of mind knowing that you can see things quite promptly and that you can communicate with the hospital when you can see that things are not as you think they should be.
Roger Burns: Yes and I also have blood tests for my rheumatology and they're the full blood count and so forth. Ashwin can probably explain more what they are, but I get them all online as well and they are generally OK. There's one or two which sometimes are at the top of the range or at the bottom of the range. And occasionally I send a message asking, am I ok, and the reply comes back within 24 hours, yes. So, what's important here to me is I've not had to involve my GP at all for five years. It's all done directly online, and I get six monthly checkups. The policy at the hospital is to have quarterly PSA blood tests simply because I underwent chemo. And that's a policy decision which is fine by me. But it's peace of mind fundamentally.
Anne Cooper: And also, I guess it helps you to feel more in control.
Roger Burns: Oh, yes. I mean, it means I don't have to faff around and chase people and find out what's happening and wonder if it's OK. I can see the results in the raw and complete peace of mind.
Anne Cooper: Ashwin, this must have been really useful over the last year when we've been discouraging patients to visit us in hospital in person. So how have you been using that system in the last year or so?
Ashwin Pinto: So I think Roger's clinical team really highlights how the transformation work has been going on for some time, but was accelerated by, sadly, the changes in the pandemic. So, Roger will tell us and I'll ask him again about the messaging function as that's so important to know about - that you can directly access a member of your team that knows your case and can give you a personalised reply, particularly at a time when. We call that team Patient Pathway Coordinators or secretaries and they’re not at their desks necessarily where the phone may ring and certainly not be answered because we're desperately trying to man all the resources we can to get to patients' queries. But it's impossible to answer every phone call on time so people have the frustration of leaving a voicemail and not knowing when they'll get that voicemail listened to or indeed a reply. It’s far better to have a system that links Roger to his team, not just to an unnamed person, but to a member of his team. We can ask Roger, do you know the people who reply to you, Roger, when you send a message in?
Roger Burns: Yes, I don't know their actual position, but I know their names because they always put their names on the message. But just picking up your point there, before I had my chemo, about two years before that, three years before that, I had radiotherapy and once or twice and I needed to ring whoever because of a missed appointment or a missed radiotherapy session or something like that. And it was very frustrating, even though I had the name and the phone number of the appointed specialist nurse to actually get in touch with anybody was quite difficult. But all that is completely resolved now because I do it online.
Ashwin Pinto: and Roger I’m going to ask you a little bit about the follow up. So, I know a little bit about urology, not much, it's been a long time since I left medical school now where we were taught about that. But in terms of questionnaires about, for example, how you're getting on, how you're feeling in yourself, you know, and so forth, do you have the opportunity using My Medical Records to tell us about about you’re feeling, normally measured by quality of life questionnaires, but we use different tools. Have you got any comments on that?
Roger Burns: There's a whole host of facilities on the app which the patient can choose to ignore or use. And one of them is, and I haven't used it for a while, I think it's called a health questionnaire. But every time you have a PSA test, you're meant to fill this in, which asks you all sorts of things about your health. How you feel, have you changed and so forth. And I must admit, because my results are fairly flat in as much as they don't change and I'm okay, I don't actually fill that in often even though I'm supposed to, but no one is particularly worried because I'm OK.
Ashwin Pinto: Yeah, but I think we would value the ability to look at you in the round. So not just your PSA, but actually you have the opportunity to tell us “actually my PSA may be just a tiny bit higher, but I'm not feeling well”. And as you know, blood tests are only one component of assessing your health, even including the PSA, which is quite a useful test. But as you well know, it's not a perfect test. But I think that’s a strength of the app, that we capture in real time how you feel you are doing.
Roger Burns: Well, that's a fair point. And perhaps I ought to respond and fill in the health questionnaire a bit more often.
Anne Cooper: I think it's really good to know that that functionality is there, though. It's really useful to know that if you want to communicate there’s an easy way to communicate with your clinical team.
Roger Burns: It is. And about six months ago I thought I had the blood forms which are given to me every year but for some reason I couldn't find them. So, I used the messaging service and said, can you send me some more blood forms? And they arrived within a couple of days in the post. So again, there's an example of not having to phone somebody up and give your details, make sure it's sent to the right person. It's all within the app.
Anne Cooper: Ashwin, I wondered if other patients have embraced the system in the same way that Roger clearly has.
Ashwin Pinto: Yeah. And again, I was going to ask Roger about it because it's very helpful to hear people's experiences about the shared letters and so forth. So obviously we now publish your letter to your GP or indeed if we write directly to you to a single repository within the app. I don't know if you make use of that. Roger, what do you feel about that?
Roger Burns: I certainly do. In fact, if I have an appointment, usually within about a month afterwards, I have a look in the app to see what's been said. And generally everything is ok. Except I have to admit, there was one occasion where there was a locum oncologist and it was a phone conversation because it was during the pandemic and what I said and what he wrote were the exact opposite. So, I dropped a message, again through the internal messaging system, just to point out what that the letter to the GP ought to have said and the reply came back, “Thanks for letting us know. We'll put it on your record”. So that was the end of it for me. But it's a facility where you like to know what people are saying about you from a health point of view.
Ashwin Pinto: I think that's the feedback we've had. So, answering your question Anne. We have other patient groups, we have patient groups in different areas, neurology is my specific area. Perhaps the difference from Roger's illness to the illness I manage is the blood tests aren't so important. More important are the patients’ symptoms, how they're doing. And we have quality of life surveys and surveys assessing patients’ activities of daily living. [They're] really important, how are they able to get on day to day? And we find that those questionnaires are so important when we cannot see people face to face in a clinic. We've always measured those things. But when we don't have the face to face assessment available so easily, or indeed patients sensibly are choosing not to attend clinic because they're concerned during the pandemic, then I think the ability to gain much more information, more much deeper information about how patients are getting on is really important. And that two way interaction between the team in the hospital and the patient is critical in getting patients to understand their condition better so they can, wherever possible, self-manage. And then alternatively, if things aren't going so well, ask us the right questions so that we can support them in making the best decision for them about change in treatment.
Anne Cooper: Ashwin in the last year, how important has this been for the trust?
Ashwin Pinto: We already had a model of looking at our services and seeing how we could improve the experience for patients. Most importantly, I think about that shared care, that shared decision making, when you have, as Roger has had it several times in his illness, I'm sure, difficult decisions to make.So we can present information to the patient, trusted information so that they don't have to scramble around and look online at sources of information that we may not believe to be particularly reliable. And then of course, they can share back and forth questions about it, about something they've seen on their record or something that's very specific to them, their particular blood test, how that influences their treatment options and so forth. So that ability to have this interaction, of course, we've had digital for years. We've been able to email to patients with their permission, obviously, because of the confidentiality side and so forth. But that is not the same as putting all of your healthcare needs into one place or your additional care record into one place. Again Roger, I'm not sure if you had experience of using email for any health-related things before, but I'm sure you'd agree that the messaging service, so that you can refer back to something you might have asked a year ago, is really useful.
Roger Burns: I don't recollect any use of email, it's all been through the app and I can't say more good about it. They're just brilliant in terms of putting your mind at ease and having responses.
Anne Cooper: What about skills? Did you find, Roger, that you had all the skills that you needed to use the technology? And Ashwin, how do patients respond in terms of the skills that they need?
Roger Burns: When I was invited, I was invited to join. I was asked if I wanted some help, but I'm fairly tech savvy. So, I found the actual app very easy to use. And what the trust did do, which they haven't done for about 18 months because of the pandemic, is they had a Saturday morning and early afternoon session where they invited any patient who wanted to come and they could actually talk about their experiences or the difficulties. And so, there was always help available to understand how to use the app. And the app is actually now very intuitive, it is easy to use.
Ashwin Pinto: I think there's been a couple of advances this year. And Roger, please interrupt as you see how important they've been. We've had a couple of things that we think have made it easier for patients. We're acutely aware of the digital divide. Of course, we mustn't always assume that because somebody is perhaps, in their 80s or 90s even, that they're not digitally literate. I'm always constantly surprised that when I start bringing it up, people say, well, I live my life on my smartphone and they're in their 80s or in their 90s. So, we never presume that. We always ask whether patients are interested and then if they're not, then that's fine. But if they have the technology and they do want to use it, then that's also fine. And we try to make life a bit easier for patients. So, the things that Roger might be aware of or might be one, is the notifications that we all now rely on using our apps. It's very important that you are notified that something new's happened rather than being reactive and having to log in and check whether a blood test has come through. So Roger will now know that, I don't know if you've had notifications through Roger?
Roger Burns: Yes, it always happens. So, if something is posted to the app, an appointment or a blood test or a letter or whatever it comes to in my normal email, and it just says, please go to the app or words to that effect, there's no information in the email about the medical side. That is correctly done through the app.
Ashwin Pinto: And the other major advance we made this year was the ability to allow patients to use their NHS login to log into the My Medical Record platform. Now, as we've all heard, one of the things that has been widely promoted this year to reduce the demand on GP services was the NHS app, which is a universal app. Doesn't matter in England which GP practice you're registered at, it will link you to your own GP practice and allow you to access parts of your summary care record and also your medication record for secondary care. We've been able to leverage the huge adoption, I think there are four million people registered to use the NHS app. We've been able to use that to offer that as an even easier way for people who struggled to remember so many different usernames and passwords. So, they have one login into both their shared care record with their GP and their shared care record with the hospital, albeit different apps. But at least one login gets them to both places.
Anne Cooper: I'm reflecting on how much has changed really and in the last few years around some of these areas. I'm also wondering, Ashwin, how much you're participating in the National Innovation Collaborative and how are you sharing your work? How could people find out about what you're doing?
Ashwin Pinto: Certainly in the ICS, which is Hampshire and Isle of Wight. We have, I think, been tasked by NHSX to look at how we can deliver that at scale across a much broader population. So, to give you some figures, I think we are at about 70,000 registrations for My Medical Record in Southampton. That sounds like a very promising number. Until you realise the trust, probably see up to 500,000 patients one way or another per year. I can't remember the exact figures, but it's a large number. So, we've got some way to go. But across the ICS we hope it will join up care. But there are plenty of pathways in which patients start in one hospital and remain under the care of a physician or a surgeon at that hospital, but also attend a regional or as we call it a “tertiary care clinic”. And the ability to have one record across the multiple places that a patient attends would be fantastic and would reduce information overload for patients in terms of one place to go that gives them access to lots of information.
Roger Burns: Well, from a patient point of view, that is vital because there's nothing worse going to an appointment where the person you are seeing either hasn't read your notes or doesn't realise there is something else about your medical condition. But I've actually had a good experience at Southampton because one department, the rheumatology department, can read my oncology files and vice versa, which is great as far as I'm concerned.
Anne Cooper: I've got one final question for both of you. That time's gone very quickly, hasn't it. Roger, would you encourage other patients to use this technology? I think we're going to know the answer to this.
Roger Burns: One hundred percent. That's an easy question. It's so good. I'd have no problem whatsoever in recommending it.
Anne Cooper: And, Ashwin, how would you encourage other clinicians to embrace a different way of delivering care using this technology?
Ashwin Pinto: I think by showing them the examples of improvements in care and actually being able to record outcome data, something that we all are very passionate about in the NHS now. To find out that our patients are hopefully improving with the treatments that we recommend and by sharing that information with the patient so they can track their progress over time. And that shared record and therefore shared decision making, which is another, as you well know, a big theme in the NHS at the moment about sharing decision making. To do that, you need to have a common database. You need to be able to see the data that allows you as a patient to make decisions. So, knowledge is power. It always has been, always will be. And by making sure that's widely available to the clinicians across often several organisations, but most importantly to the patient, that will help us transform care and achieve better outcomes.
Anne Cooper: Thank you very much, both of you. Thank you for the conversation. It was really interesting.
Roger Burns: Yeah, thanks very much. Thank you for the opportunity.
Ashwin Pinto: Thank you very much. And thank you, actually.
Anne Cooper: Thanks so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. And remember to follow the podcast series and sign up to the Innovation Collaborative on the Future NHS platform.
Episode 4: Can telemedicine provide different ways of providing care for children and young people with chronic conditions?
How in the North East and Yorkshire they are implementing a new device that enables clinicians to provide a range of physical examinations remotely for children and young people with chronic conditions remotely.
Paul Dimitri, a professor of child health and paediatric consultant at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Megan Dale, clinical lead for the Tytocare project at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, discuss their progress in implementing a new device that enables clinicians to provide a range of physical examinations for children and young people remotely.
Supported by NHSX funding, the Tytocare telemedicine device allows clinical teams to provide a full virtual consultation over Zoom or MS Teams, with the technology enabling them to take remote observations such as listening to the child’s chest and heart, examining skin rashes and measuring their temperature and heart rate.
Episode 4 transcript
Non-verbatim: Text adapted for improved readability
Anne Cooper I don’t know about you, but I’m always inspired by great stories, about how people have done great work especially if it centres on empowering people to look after themselves at home well supported by clinical teams. If you are like me you are in the right place. My name is Anne Cooper and I’m a nurse with a passion for how we use digital technology to help us to care for people. In this NHSX podcast series I will be chatting to people who have done just that. Come together and worked out how to use technology in new and innovative ways to improve care, all against the backdrop of a global pandemic. These are stories of clinical transformation with technology and they form part of the NHSX National Innovation Collaborative. If you want to know more about the Collaborative please join the conversations on the National Innovation Collaborative Workspace. You can find more information and a link in the show notes. So get your ears tuned in and get ready to be inspired.
Anne Cooper: Hello, everybody. It's a delight to be here with Megan Dale and Paul Dimitri, as part of the Innovation Collaborative podcast. First of all, I'd like to ask you both a little bit about who you are and how you first got involved in this work. We'll start with Paul.
Paul Dimitri: I'm a professor of child health and a consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology at Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust. And I'm also director of research and innovation at the trust. But how I got involved in this project was through my connections with the Yorkshire and Humber academic health science network. So I head up one of the 11 NIHR MedTech and in vitro diagnostic cooperatives, namely the NIHR children and young people's MedTech cooperatives. We focus on the development of child health technology. And I spoke with the Yorkshire and Humber academic health science network about the Tytocare project, Tytocare being the piece of equipment that we're looking at and assessing. And I spoke to them about evaluating the technology that they're rolling out over the Yorkshire and Humber network. So we're being funded through NHSX to support the evaluation of the Tytocare project.
Anne Cooper:And what about you, Megan, tell me a bit about you and how this journey started for you.
Megan Dale: I'm a pediatric registrar, I'm doing my training to become a pediatric consultant here in the Yorkshire and Humber region. And I took a year out of my training to do a health education England leadership fellow, and as part of that, I was asked to lead on the Tytocare project at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust. So I was clinical lead for that project and that's how I got involved.
Anne Cooper:Megan, tell me a little bit more about Tytocare and how it works.
Megan Dale: It's a handheld telemedicine device and allows you to have a virtual consultation. So like you would chat with someone on Zoom or MS teams, you can see the child or young person at the other side and they can see the healthcare professional. But it also allows you to be able to examine that child, young person, or adult as well. So you can have a listen to their heart sounds, their lung sounds and their breathing, and see the electronic stethoscope. You can examine their ears, their throat, their mouth, and it's got a really good inbuilt camera so you can have a nice look at the weird and wonderful rashes that children present with, and you can measure the heart rate and the temperature as well. So it just allows you to take that next step from a video consult that we've all become familiar with during the pandemic and just be able to examine children and young people as well.
Anne Cooper:I think you were starting to use this equipment before the pandemic started, is that right?
Megan Dale: Yes, the trust journey with Tytocare, we first heard about it back in 2017. My colleague Matthew Mathai heard about it at a conference. And then in 2019, I guess we were intrigued about the technology. And I guess our first question was, does this really do what it says on the tin? So back in 2019, we kind of took the device and we examined 16 children right from a baby of six weeks, up to 16 years, we examined them using the Tyto device, and then we examined them like we would do normally in person with our normal stethoscopes, and normal otoscopes and things. And we compared the two and found actually it does do what it says on the tin. There were some difficulties as there is with any new technology, especially around connectivity, but the device can be utilised in two different ways.
So you can have that live online consult that I kind of described earlier, but you can also record an examination. So a parent or even the young person themselves can record an examination or a health care professional that's with them. And then that can be reviewed by a clinician or another healthcare professional at a different time. So that journey started in 2019 and started with that really. We discovered another interesting fact, there's some artificial intelligence built into the device and that's wonderful. It's there to ensure that the video quality and the sound quality is good enough for somebody to be able to utilise, but as any of who has ever met a child will know, they don't sit perfectly still or perfectly quietly all the time. So that if you're doing it in that offline mode or that kind of forward and send mode that I described, the AI will kick in to say, "Hang on a minute that child's moving and you need to re-record," but you can get over that by doing the live consulting. So there was lots of learning from that initial kind of usability pilot, and that enabled us then to do an actual clinical pilot using patients.
Anne Cooper: It sounds like it's quite important then to have some early experiments with these technologies to work out how you actually can use it in practice. Did the pandemic last year accelerate the way you were going to do the project?
Megan Dale:Yeah massively so. Back in 2019 when we started, trying to get staff, healthcare professionals and patients involved in the pilot was really quite tricky. And then when the pandemic hit, obviously everybody had to really rethink the way we work and the way that we see children and young people. And it kind of really opened everybody's eyes seeing us do things in a different way, being able to do things in a different way. And I think for families as well, the way that they access health care, it wasn't just a one way route. They suddenly saw that there was different ways to access health care too. So I would say that the feeling from both families and healthcare professionals was much more receptive to the idea of doing things in a different way. So it was much easier kind of once the pandemic hit.
We also changed our focus about pilots. I think initially we'd been hoping to utilise the device in our ambulatory care experience. That's our hospital at home children's team. But actually when the pandemic hit, I think all of us working in health care really were quite worried about the children and young people that we wanted to protect and particularly vulnerable children and young people. For us that was our children with lung problems, chronic lung problems and our children with life limiting illnesses. Those groups of children require a lot of input from the multidisciplinary teams. So they're not a group of children that you'd want to keep away from healthcare professionals, but equally they're a group of children and young people that you want to protect. So we didn't want them anywhere near the hospital as well. So we really changed our focus really to seeing how we could utilise the device to really be able to make a difference to those children, young people during the pandemic.
Anne Cooper: That sounds like it really acted as an accelerant. Paul, I know that you're passionate about properly evaluating projects and work that we do. And I also think that you're interested in that from multiple perspectives. Do you want to tell us a little bit about some of the evaluation work that you're doing as part of the project?
Paul Dimitri:First and foremost I think, Anne, is to say that the evaluation part of this is enormously important. This is a really big project headed up by the Yorkshire and Humber academic health science network. And we got involved in the bit that you described, the evaluation side. Evaluating this piece of technology, even at a regional level, is going to be hugely important as we move towards a national level. So we approached this through service user and end user evaluations. So it's about making sure that the service user is comfortable with using the piece of technology. And it integrates very well into the service. And of course the problem if we don't have service user acceptance, is that often technology then falls by the wayside because people fall out with it, they say that it doesn't work. And in fact, the technology may work perfectly well, but actually the service user isn't either comfortable with it or it doesn't integrate well with the clinical pathway or the service that it's intended to be in.
In terms of end user evaluation, we regard that as highly important. So when we started NIHR children and young people MedTech cooperative, we made sure that the ethos of everything that we do was health technology designed for children with children. The importance of that is such that if the end user doesn't like something, it doesn't matter how much the service provider is pushing for that technology and advocating the use of it. If the end user doesn't like it, they will reject it. And they'll move back to the more traditional ways of doing things. So the evaluation is about ensuring that the technology integrates well with the service, that it fits with multiple different clinical pathways. And this is the advantage of working across multiple different clinical pathways within the different NHS Trusts. So this has been rolled out across both paediatric and adult healthcare, but also that the end user will accept it as well.
And that we gather the data to ensure that's the case. There is also a third part to this as well in terms of the evaluation, which is making sure that actually from the technical side, things are running smoothly. The key to this is to say when the project has been evaluated and it's finished and the report is written that when it comes to working with other parts of the NHS or other regions, that we're able to provide the necessary data to those regions to ensure them that on those three levels, everything is acceptable so that the technology is acceptable to the service provider and integrates well with that clinical pathway. It's acceptable to the end user and in this case, it will be patients and their parents. And that's, again, important because actually there is a transition between parents using this technology and ultimately patients using this technology as they mature from being young people through transition into adolescents and adults.
And that in terms of the technical side of things, that it is that the technology is implementable in different regions. So there's a fair bit to the evaluation. As I mentioned before, we were funded through NHSX to have a full-time project manager to support that evaluation because it's an extensive evaluation. I mean, there's a significant number of trusts that have adopted this technology within Yorkshire and Humber. So the amount of data points is sizable. So you do need somebody with both the expertise and the time to be able to do this. And I think going back to your point as well, Anne, about evaluation being important, the evaluation side of things is important for every technology that we integrate within NHS clinical care.
Anne Cooper:I agree with you. And I think actually it can help us to better outcomes if we do it well and do as you say, which is to properly share the outcomes of that evaluation. Megan, you will have some early feelings having worked with families using the technology about how they're responding to it. What are your reflections about what's happened with actual families?
Megan Dale: I'll kind of reflect back about what families have found, and then just how that's impacted me as a clinician, if that's alright Anne. So in terms of what families found, our specialist nurses utilised the device, but we also gave seven families a device to keep within their home. And then of those seven families, four of those families wouldn't have had the technology or the ability to be able to even just do a video consult, which is what we were using as kind of our main consultation method before the Tyto pilot. So I think first of all, it opened my eyes. I think sometimes we just automatically assume that everybody can do a video consultation that it's quite a simple thing to do, but actually it's really not. So I think it really opened my eyes and challenged me to always think about how a patient might be able to access what we're offering as healthcare professionals. But also it's just really wonderful to be able to enable those families, to be able to give them the technology they need or the internet connectivity, or give them the training that they need to be able to access healthcare in that way. I think what the pilot really opened my eyes to is really the impact that chronic illness has on our families and the person's circumstances they're in. So I think often you might see a child or young person in a clinic, but we don't tend to think about how they got there or the impact that's had on their family. So one of our families that we utilised the device with is a mum who's registered blind and has four children with a chronic lung problem. And so for her, most weeks she's at the hospital for some kind of appointment for one of the children. And that involves either her getting on two buses, which obviously creates a lot of anxiety, she can't see. And so trying to travel into the centre of Bradford and out again is really distressing. The children are young as well. And so trying to feel that they're safe while they're doing that, is really difficult. Or involves her husband taking a day off work and he's self-employed so that's no income for them for a day. So as healthcare professionals, we think we're providing really good care for that family by seeing them in an outpatient appointment, actually we've caused lots of emotional and psychological stress by getting there. So I think it just really opened my eyes to think about the practicalities for our family, of getting to the different types of appointments that we offer them. And so for her being able to utilise this device, being able to sit in her front room with the device. It's colour coded and she can see bits of colour.
So we were able to find ways around so that she could utilise this device completely independently. So for her being able to see somebody. And we've even managed to because of the ease of it and the efficiency savings from a health care point of view, we were able to see them even before school. So the children weren't missing full days of school, the older ones. And mum was able to sit in her front room feeling safe and reassured and not having the anxiety run up to appointments about the journey to and from the hospital. And so for me, really being able to challenge myself as a doctor about not just that patient in front of me and the healthcare problem, but actually thinking about those wider deterrents of health care and the stress on families and being able to see how utilising the device have made a difference to that. We can use video consults, but for these children it's really important to be able to hear and to be able to examine the chest. So that was why we were having to kind of bring them up, or their ears, because of the condition. So being able to still examine them remotely allowed us to be able to manage them most of the time at home, which really made a big difference.
Paul Dimitri: Can I maybe make a comment on that. I think Megan's raised a really important point. And you alluded to the pandemic earlier on in your question and I think the pandemic has pushed healthcare professionals to think differently about how we deliver care. And with the simple question, do we actually physically need to see a patient? Do they need to be in front of us to do what we do? And I think Megan's beautifully described there that actually there are a number of patients where we don't need to see them to necessarily deliver care. I mean, I've heard stories in the past about this, where patients have traveled for hours sometimes because they've been in rural settings. They've traveled to city centre hospitals to receive test results. So they spend hours getting somewhere. They then wait for an appointment, go in, they spend 15 to 20 minutes during that consultation receiving positive test results only to travel back again, which could have easily been done through a different process, a telecommunications process. And this project, the Tytocare project has essentially enhanced that. It not only allows us to communicate with patients, but it allows us to provide almost a complete consultation with having the facility to do things like auscultate a patient's chest, to look in their ears, et cetera. And the impact on the families that we look after, even for those that may not necessarily have to travel far, or may not necessarily have challenging conditions, if a patient comes to hospital, the process by which they have to get somewhere to park, to check in, to wait for the consultation and to leave again, can often take up to half a day. And for parents that could be half a day of work lost and for the children and young people that could be half a day of education lost. And so if you think of1 utilising this type of technology now, in the sense of saying, well actually if the consultation only takes 10 or 15 minutes, you've saved half a day of work loss than half a day of education loss. And that can only be a good thing. And in fact, the speed at which we can deliver these consultations is also accelerated as well. So I think there are clear advantages to trialing this and other technologies to support delivering healthcare in a different way.
Anne Cooper: I absolutely agree with all of that. And I think that Megan illustrated how there's a number of barriers too to why those parents might not actually end up in clinic. They can't afford to take the day off work, et cetera. So the technology's reducing the bar to entry really for them. Megan, how did colleagues that you worked with respond? Was everybody universally positive about using the technology?
Megan Dale: It would be wonderful if we could say universal for anything, but I don't think we ever can with health care, can we? As you know, I think it's helpful when people are sceptical because it makes us think about why we're doing something and how we do it in an equitable way and if we're taking the right approach. So I really welcomed the sceptics because it really made us think about the different pathways and whether they were appropriate or not. But I think what we managed to find with our thing and what will be really wonderful to see as the project expands across the region is we managed to find a group of children, young people, families, that it was really effective with. And I think we've recorded some videos of parents giving feedback. So I think the colleagues that were sceptical, once you've been able to see and hear that were really not. And I've got to say, even the ones that were sceptical were so incredibly supportive because I think the real heart behind this was really trying to make a positive impact on children and young people so nobody's going to argue that. I think sometimes in technology projects, people that are a bit skeptical of technology, I've got to say, I'm one of those sceptics, we think, "Oh, they're just making it harder for us or it's not as good for the family. It's always better for them to be there in person." But I think what the pilot showed me and my colleagues that were a bit sceptical as well, was that actually what we think is best for the patient, isn't always better for the patient and family. And then that technology, when it's used in the right pathway can be really beneficial. So the right technology and the right pathway can be really beneficial. I think the pandemic did help as we alluded to earlier, open up the acceptability to different healthcare professionals. But one of the other things that I think was really helpful about the pilot was how it was utilised really by a multidisciplinary team. So our chest physios were heavily involved, our specialist nurses. So it wasn't just doctors saying, and I think that's always really helpful. The fact that the whole team found it really useful and actually our nurses and our physios were probably more proactive in kind of highlighting the benefits than anybody else really, so I think the multidisciplinary team approach definitely really helped acceptability across the whole team. And it wasn't just the clinical team. There's an informatics team, the IT team, the clinical engineering team, the senior leadership within the trust, multiple trusts. And I think when you think about the different infrastructures and teams involved and kind of taking them all on that journey with you, really kind of allows for everybody to come out the same end with the same feeling and same understanding of what the pilots have been able to achieve really.
Anne Cooper: One of the things in my experience of working in the informatics space is about clinical safety. Did you have to do anything specifically to make sure that you weren't introducing risk and that we were keeping everybody safe? How did you handle those things?
Megan Dale: There's a massive amount of work that went into that because obviously that is the most important thing, isn't it? We don't want to do anything that's not safe for our patients. So we did a lot of work on risk assessments and things, and for the families that had the device in their home, I think the really important thing for us was to clearly communicate when to use the device. So if your child's there with an acute breathing problem, that's not the time to turn on your Tyto device. That's the time to call 999. And I think the benefit of working with a group of patients and families that we knew really well was that we could do that, but we also utilised individual care plans to be able to really clearly illustrate that with kind of a colour-coded red, amber, green process. So there was a really clear process for the clinical team of when the device was to be utilised, but a really clear process for their families and the children and young people themselves of when the device was appropriate to be used. And actually when it was totally the wrong thing to use and when we needed to do other things. And so we were able to utilise things that already exist about red flags for children, some wonderful things that the NHS have already produced. So we're able to kind of integrate those signposting systems within an individualised care plan for each child and young person. So they'd really clearly knew not just on paper, but we went through it with them in person, when the device was to be used and when it wasn't.
Anne Cooper: Paul, bearing in mind the range of partners that you're working with on this project across the region, how are you making sure that you all stay connected to each other and learn as you go along?
Paul Dimitri: You're right. This is an extensive project, we're all in this project across the whole of Yorkshire and Humber. And so there's multiple NHS trusts involved in delivering Tytocare. And of course we're evaluating this across all these trusts. Now that the plan is, is potentially to spread out to the North East as well. And so what we needed was a platform to be able to exchange information and support this collaboration. Now, the Innovation Collaborative digital health platform has done exactly that. So for those that may not know about it, it is hosted by NHSX digital health team. And it's been established to provide a community working together to deliver technology enabled services. And of course when you're working across multiple different sites like this, you need a comprehensive platform to be able to share information, to support collaboration, and importantly, to avoid duplication as well. So it's been an enormously successful platform and I know there's an opportunity for other collaborative working groups and healthcare professionals to access the innovation collaborative digital health platform in the future.
Anne Cooper: I think listeners just can join the innovation collaborative workspace on future NHS. We're coming towards the end. And I just want to conclude really, by asking both of you very briefly to tell listeners if you had one piece of advice that you would offer them, one thing that is a single really important thing, what would it be? Paul?
Paul Dimitri: I think my key message here will come in one word, which is evaluate. So the technology in the NHS is hugely important, but actually ensuring that it works and it works for everybody, this is those that are delivering the technology, those that are providing the service through the technology, and those that are using the technology, it needs to work for everybody. So my one word, my take home message is evaluate.
Anne Cooper: Thank you. Megan?
Megan Dale: I'll go for a question, actually. Question and challenge, two words. So I think I'd just encourage my colleagues in the healthcare profession to question and to challenge just to ask that patient how they got there or to ask that patient how they'd like to access healthcare. And so really, I guess a challenge to me personally, has been to open my eyes to think about the patient and the family in front of me, and how we're delivering the health care, how they're able to access it, and is that the way we want, or is that the way they want? And if it's not the way they want or not the way that's easiest to them, how are we able to support that? Is there technology available? Is there a platform available that can help us support them being able to access health care and in a way that suits them in a way that actually provides benefit, a positive benefit, for that family.
Anne Cooper:Back to Paul.
Paul Dimitri: Can I come in because it would be remiss of me, and Megan has of course prompted me with her question. It would be remiss of me not to finish with a key message about children and young people because this project has been primarily about children and young people and for the listeners to remember that children and young people make up a significant portion of the population. They are 25% of our UK population and 100% of the future ahead. So working with them and with the families and with healthcare professionals to support the rollout of technology for children and young people is going to be vitally important for how we deliver healthcare in the future.
Anne Cooper:Thank you both very much. I actually feel quite inspired by your story about how you're using remote monitoring to work with children and families, actually. And I think you're both exemplars for the things that we need to do as we move forward into a new era around using technology for care. So thank you both very much for your time.
Anne Cooper Thanks so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. And remember to follow the podcast series and sign in to the Innovation Collaborative on the Future NHS platform.
Episode 5: Digitising care homes: how can remote monitoring technologies help care homes improve the health of residents?
In London care homes remote monitoring technologies are enabling care home staff to take a range of clinical readings and observations to improve the way they monitor residents’ health
Rachael Lomax, deputy manager of a care home in Edgware, and Matthew Nye, NHS England’s regional director for digital transformation, discuss the impact that remote monitoring technology is having across London’s care homes, reflecting on the implementation journey and what the future may hold.
Digital devices have enabled care home staff to take a range of clinical readings and observations to improve the way they monitor residents’ health, enabling them to alert health professionals to early signs of deterioration while providing added reassurance to residents and families.
Episode 5 transcript
Non-verbatim: Text adapted for improved readability
I don’t know about you, but I’m always inspired by great stories, about how people have done great work especially if it centres on empowering people to look after themselves at home well supported by clinical teams. If you are like me you are in the right place. My name is Anne Cooper and I’m a nurse with a passion for how we use digital technology to help us to care for people. In this NHSx podcast series I will be chatting to people who have done just that. Come together and work out how to use technology in new and innovative ways to improve care, all against the backdrop of a global pandemic. These are stories of clinical transformation with technology and they form part of the NHSx National Innovation Collaborative. If you want to know more about the Collaborative please join the conversations on the National Innovation Collaborative Workspace. You can find more information and a link in the show notes. So get your ears tuned in and get ready to be inspired.
Hello, everybody. Welcome to another Innovation Collaborative podcast. I'm delighted today to be here with Rachael and Matthew. And the first thing I'm going to do today is ask them to introduce themselves to us.
Rachael, can you introduce yourself to the people listening?
Yes. I'm Rachael Lomax. I'm the deputy manager of a care home in Edgware; Sydmar Lodge. And we are currently using Whzan. We have been using Whzan for about three months, four months, and we're enjoying the experience.
That's fabulous. Matthew.
Hi. Matthew Nye. I'm the regional director for NHS England/Improvement. I lead on digital transformation across primary care care homes and supporting a remote monitoring program across London.
That's fabulous. Thank you.
I'm going to come to Rachael, first of all. Can you tell us a little bit more about what Whzan is and what it means in the care home? What do you actually use it to do?
It comes in a blue box, and in the box, we have all the tools to monitor people's observations. So we have blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen. In this blue box, also, there is a tablet, and all the devices that are inside this blue box link up to the tablet. So the observations automatically go onto the tablet, which gives a correct reading of that resident's observations, which then, in turn, that then helps the team leaders to give them an idea of when they need to call a GP, or whether it's a GP; if not a GP, to send them to hospital.
That's great. How often do you do the observations with the residents?
We do the observations on a 28 day basis. So every 28 days we do their baseline, and then apart from their baseline, we do their observations if they appear to be unwell in any way, if we notice something out of character. It could be anything. As simple as a urine infection. If they seem out of character or seem confused, we then do their observations. And it gives us a baseline of whether we need to act further.
And does it enable the GP to see the results?
Our GP has access to the results. Yep. She can access it. She was given access by the home. And I understand that the ambulance service is going to have access to the scoring, and I understand that 111 has access.
That's really interesting.
Matthew, how many of the care homes across London are doing similar projects to this that you are aware of?
So we've got 1300 care homes across London, and the aim by the end of this year is to have at least 600 of them using a remote monitoring type product. We've got five different areas across London, and they've all gone for different types of products. They are similar to Whzan. They capture vitals and they've got dashboards. And the whole idea behind remote monitoring in support for care homes is to empower the staff within the care homes to start to improve the quality of care for the patients. They're monitoring them on a regular basis, they feel more upskilled in using the products as a support for the patients, and actually, if they feel a patient is unwell, they can record the vital signs and then have a conversation with a GP. I think one of the other key benefits on this in supporting the care homes is that it will actually help focus those conversations, where the practices who are supporting the care homes, they can then focus on the patients that need the support now, or they can pick up early signs of deterioration and actually stop them from going into hospital.
Okay. I've got this picture in my head, across London, of all of these care homes with these blue boxes with this equipment in, with the teams scurrying around monitoring residents to make sure that they're as well as they can be.
Rachael, how have staff responded to the new innovation?
The team leaders are the main ones, and myself, that use the Whzan, the blue boxes. They have taken to it quite well. They do enjoy doing their baselines each month. And it gives them an idea, if they're not quite sure about the observations, whether they need to call someone. That's where they find that it helps them very much.
Do they have to do a lot of training to learn how to use the systems?
We have myself and two team leaders that are nurses. We are the super users. So we then pass on our knowledge to them and we do the training with them.
Rachael, you're doing the readings every 28 days to keep a record of the patients. If a patient's deteriorating in the month, or you think that they're unwell, do you then go and do some further observations?
Yeah, we do their observations again if we find that they're deteriorating or they don't seem to be themselves. Yes, we go on and do their observations again. And we repeat them as much as it tells us. Because we have scores; the NEWS2 score. The NEWS2 score gives us an idea of whether we need to monitor them again. So then we normally do two hourly monitoring. And then if it is just monitoring, we do that. If it wants us to go further to the next step, then we go to the next step, which is normally the GP or clinical lead.
How do the patients perceive this remote monitoring? Do they feel actually privileged to be using it, or actually get excited by understanding their own readings and how they're progressing?
Some of the residents take note of what's ... They listen to what the tablet is saying. So some of them will say, "Oh, what is my blood pressure?" And they'll comment like that. Some just don't actually respond to it at all. Some just sit there and allow us to do it.
Has it been difficult, Matthew, persuading care homes to adopt this new technology in general?
It's been a mixed challenge across the whole of London. Some areas were, I think, especially with COVID over the last year, some care homes' staff and managers are stretched, they've a shorter staff. So some of them have struggled to embed and sign up for them. I think the key for this and the key learning we found from different areas is building up the engagement before trying to roll the products out, engaging with the care homes through different forums, through the managers, and trying to explain the benefits that will be for the care home itself, for its staff, and also the benefit for the patients. And actually, by collecting the clinical readings, will actually support them, manage the patient, and also support the carers, whether it's health staff or social care staff, provide the right support for them, and also focus the care where it's needed within the care home. So it's been a challenging year for all of health and social care, and care home staff, but where we're finding the devices are being rolled out, the actual care homes, once they start using them, continue to use them because the staff feel more involved. The feedback we're getting, the staff feel more involved, more empowered. And when they're having a conversation with a GP or a nurse, they've actually got, I suppose, more clinical information to discuss and provide to the practices.
You were just talking about, you know, during COVID, and that. We actually found the monitoring system of this to be very helpful. It gave us an indication one day that one of our residents wasn't well, and we used that and it actually turned out that we had a case of COVID then. So we found that really, really useful, and it was really good for the team leaders then as well, because obviously they might not have spotted that at the time.
Does having the devices, Rachael, help for you when you're discharging or taking patients potentially from a hospital, give you more confidence to take a patient earlier, so at least you could monitor them and feel that, actually, if something does deteriorate, you can call the hospital back or the GP?
Yeah, because as soon as someone is discharged from hospital, we do their observations the day they come back. Yeah.
It sounds to me like there's a lot of benefit for everybody. How have families responded, Rachael?
Well, obviously, when we mention to the families that we've got this new device that we use and we try to explain the NEWS2 score, they don't understand it, but the ones that we have had residents that we've used it on and they've needed to go to hospital or have needed a doctor, obviously they've been very grateful that we've got that, and that we're able to flag something up that's needed straight away before this resident gets really bad and requires to go to hospital, because the aim is to try and stop them from going into hospital, if we can.
Yeah. It's about early identification, isn't it, of issues, so that the resident doesn't deteriorate? Matthew, you talked about, across London, having, I think you said 600 homes. How are you sharing the learning across the homes? Do you share and get them to help each other in their learning journeys?
In terms of the individual homes, that's normally worked through a local borough STP level, but across London, one of the really good benefits of doing the remote monitoring work over the last year has been all of the improvement collaborative that we've pulled together across London, and also nationally. Because this has been a learning journey. Not just for the care home staff and the GPs. It's also been a learning journey for the commissioners to understand, "Okay, how do you procure a remote monitoring device? What is its specification? What does it need to look like?" And engaging with the care home managers and the GPs. Trying to understand, what do they need and what do the devices need to look at, and what type of clinical measurements are useful for working.? So across London, over the last year, every Friday we've had the key commissioners, and NHSX and NHS England, all the people involved in supporting this have been coming together to share their journey, to share their questions, because even putting together a specification was really challenging. So each area was sharing their current drafts, and we were borrowing bits and pieces from, not just from in London, but we use some of the specifications from the Midlands. So there's been a collaborative approach, not just across the region, which has been really good to see, but across the whole of the country, as we've been going on this journey together. And it's not just the specifications, it's been trying to work through some challenges that have been fed back from the team trying to implement this on the ground with the care homes and the practices, around, when should you alert a GP to a certain change? When should the GP log in to look at the dashboard? How do we support the training of the staff in the care homes? And then actually, what devices are working well? So the improvement collaborative, not just in London, but nationally, has helped shape our whole journey over the last year. And everyone involved in this whole project has been completely open. And when someone's had an issue, someone else has already solved that issue somewhere within London or nationally. And we've been benefiting from that. So that whole process of being open and working together across the whole system, and thinking, "Actually, this is a learning for all of us," I suppose, has benefited, not just London, but I suppose the other commissioners across the country.
That's absolutely great to hear. Transparency and openness in this sort of space is definitely a way to accelerate people's learning, I think, isn't it? Matthew, I understand that you're doing some work with the 111 services across London as well, and integrating some of the work with care homes. Do you want to tell me a little bit about that?
So in North Central London, with a small number of care homes, we're trialing a pilot of, when the NEWS2 score reading changes with the patient, there'll be an automatic alert sent into the 111 clinical assessment service. So they will get an alert into their clinical queue and then they will call the care home back within a certain time period. So we're trying to identify support early. As soon as a patient changes their clinical conditions over a certain NEWS2 score threshold that will send the alert in, and then they can proactively call the care home and offer advice and support. And hopefully, we'll find that that stops further calls into 999, and patients going into hospital. But it's in its early stages. We've got two or three care homes working with 111 to actively trial this, and then hopefully we'll see the benefits and then we can roll that out across other areas across London.
That sounds like a great example of how remote monitoring can be integrated further into the health system to provide the best support for care homes and their residents. Rachael, to come back to you, you've talked a little bit about NEWS2. I wondered if you can elaborate a little bit more for people listening on what that really means.
Okay. So the NEWS2 score is a score given as a result of the scores for the observation. So when the observations are entered into the device, into the tablet, on each observation that's put in, when we get to the end of it, we've put all the observations in, we have to put in whether they were breathing normal air and whether they're more confused than normal. That then gives us a score, and the score sort of goes from one to seven most of the time; obviously one being to monitor, and then up to five ... For instance, today, I had a lady that was five. So that is to review. So again, we would have to review her again in the two hours. And then obviously, before, I have had it where it's gone up to seven, even into the eights, where it's escalated then to an ambulance needed to go to hospital.
It's a standard scoring system, isn't it? It's a recognized scoring system, NEWS2, isn't it, Rachael?
I was just wondering, I think there's tremendous work that's going on, and having elderly relatives myself, who are in care homes, it's great to hear and it's reassuring to hear it's going on, but I'm interested in, I guess, what you might tell somebody in a care home who wasn't doing this, where to start from, and perhaps the steps that they should take to move forward. I'll start with Rachael first.
We find it a good asset to the home. I like it, again, because like I said, I can be reassured that the team leaders know when to call someone. I would really, really recommend to anyone, any care home, to start using it and to try it.
Matthew, what about you? If you were advising a care home out there somewhere, where would you advise them to start?
I think remote monitoring provides several benefits to the whole system and to the care home. And I think it provides a level of confidence and assurance to support, I suppose, patients being discharged from hospital, that that care home can confidently manage that patient and monitor them on a regular basis. So if they've just recently had an operation, to support that patient come back to their place of residence and into their safe room. I think it gives confidence to the family that they're being monitored. It gives constant assurance to even the staff that they are capable of looking after these patients. If they're worried about a patient, they've actually got metrics to help them monitor the patient, "Oh, actually, they haven't changed," or, "Actually, they are deteriorating," or, "Actually, they have improved." So I think the whole area of remote monitoring just provides a level of assurance and confidence from the family through to the staff, to the care home managers, to even the nurses and the consultants discharging patients in hospitals. So a 999 crew who's come round to have a look at a patient, if they know that the care home has got devices in place, they can say, "Actually, monitor this patient. If it deteriorates below this level, then please call us again." So I think it's that ability to look after the patient in their place of residence and look after them safely. And it also improves the quality of care, because the care home can act quicker if they can see a deterioration that may not be visible from the patient, if they're regularly monitoring them on a regular basis.
That's fantastic. Thank you. Final question from me. Rachael, you're allowed to give one single piece of advice to another care home who are not using this system. What would be the one single piece of advice that you would give?
My advice for them would be to go for it. 100%, go for it. It's been so good for us. We've found it so, so helpful. Very much. So helpful. Even our GP is so on board. She walks into her weekly visit and the first thing she says is, "Let's Whzan. Let's Whzan." She'll have us Whzan everyone when she comes on her weekly visit. So go for it. 100%, go for it. It's worth it.
Thank you. And same question to you, really, Matthew. What would you say? I know you've talked a lot about the benefits of the system, but if somebody was just at that tipping point of thinking whether they were going to do it, what would you advise them to do first?
I would advise them to go and have a conversation with the GPs and the clinicians that are supporting them as a care home, and go and have a conversation with another Rachael or another care home that's using it, because the feedback that we get, that if care homes are using it, they see the benefit and the staff feel happier supporting the patients. But one of the key learnings that we've identified is that, before you implement it, work out the pathways of, when something happens, when do you contact the GP? What are the escalation points? And working with the GPs that are looking after those patients; what are the measurements when they need to be alerted? Just working through that. So the simple operational process of what to do next if a reading goes to a certain level and actually how to implement it.
That's lovely. Thank you. And of course, they can always go to the Future NHS Innovation Collaborative site and find information on there, like, I think, Matthew, the specifications that you were talking about earlier on. So that's fantastic. It's been wonderful to talk to both of you. You're both great advocates for this technology, and I hope other people are inspired by the conversation. Thank you.
Thanks so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. And remember to follow the podcast series and sign in to the Innovation Collaborative on the Future NHS platform.
Episode 6: Successful partnerships - aligning the worlds of Digital and Quality Improvement
In episode 6, Anne talks to Bob Kalber and Kevin Jarrold from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. They discuss their journey in aligning their two worlds to drive improvement in care delivery enabled by technology.
Episode 6 transcript
I don’t know about you, but I’m always inspired by great stories, about how people have done great work especially if it centres on empowering people to look after themselves at home well supported by clinical teams. If you are like me you are in the right place. My name is Anne Cooper and I’m a nurse with a passion for how we use digital technology to help us to care for people. In this NHSx podcast series I will be chatting to people who have done just that. Come together and worked out how to use technology in new and innovative ways to improve care, all against the backdrop of a global pandemic. These are stories of clinical transformation with technology and they form part of the NHSx National Innovation Collaborative. If you want to know more about the Collaborative please join the conversations on the National Innovation Collaborative Workspace. You can find more information and a link in the show notes. So get your ears tuned in and get ready to be inspired.
Hello, everyone. It's a really great pleasure to introduce you to this particular podcast from the Innovation Collaborative. This one is slightly different from the other podcasts that you might've listened to. In this one, we're looking forward into the next phase of the Innovation Collaborative and it will be increasingly important for us to demonstrate how technology contributes to quality improvements. And I'm hoping that the two people that I'm going to speak to can help us to understand how that's the case. So I've got the great pleasure of having Kevin Jarrold with me and Bob Klaber, who are both from Imperial but I'll let them do the great honour of introducing themselves to you. So, first of all, Kevin, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I'm Kevin Jarrold. I'm the joint chief information officer for Imperial College Healthcare Trust and Chelsea and Westminster. And I also have a similar role across Northwest London CCGs and the Northwest London ICS. I've had a career in health service information and IT, and been driving forwards the whole transformation agenda over a good few years now.
That's lovely. Thank you. That's a big job. That's a really big job. Bob, what about you?
So I'm Bob Klaber. I'm a paediatrician and I'm also the director of strategy research innovation, which is a really fun and somewhat infinitesimally big job here. But I have a real interest in learning and how people learn and teams learn and systems learn and I guess through that, improvement. And have done quite a lot around quality improvement and more broadly thinking about how you improve things, how you change things. And I guess really focused on the people side of that.
That's another big job, isn't it? So I guess in my experience over the last decade or so, you two are probably two unlikely people, partners to be working together. So how did you realize that the work that you were both doing was interesting to each other, and how did that synergy arise? Do you want to start Kevin?
I guess the issue around technology and around sort of moving forwards the whole digital agenda is that technology's only part of it. So the key thing for any successful implementation of a large and complex system, it's about the people and the processes as well as the technology. The technology's got to be there and the technology's got to work. So I guess Bob and I sort of started working together and as an organisation, we have a real tradition of some really strong clinical leadership around our whole digital and quality improvement agenda. So it's through that collaborative working around making sure that when technology comes into the organisation, it really delivers the benefit for the organisation. I guess that's how the dialogue started. And then Bob has been driving a whole quality improvement agenda and we found that we could really usefully apply that quality improvement agenda to the way in which we were taking forward the delivery of the digital strategy. So Bob you'll recall some of the... using that big room methodology to the digital and then we had some really fantastic sessions with a lot of different people in the room, where we're brainstorming how we can drive a particular project forwards. I remember a whole series of discussions around the way in which we were driving forwards the implementation of a North West London Care Information Exchange, which was an initiative that puts patient records in the hands of the patients and fundamentally changes the relationship between the patient and the way in which they received their care.
Thanks, Kevin. You're bringing about loads of really happy memories of all sorts of really good things. I guess the bit of the jigsaw that I'd want to just add into that is if you... and I think your point about clinical leadership is really, really well-made. And we're really fortunate here as an organisation, as you say, that sort of culturally that's been something that has been really valued. And so as a youngish consultant, I've been a consultant about 12 years now but early on in my career as a consultant here, I felt a real sense of opportunity to really try and get things done and to try and improve things and transform how care was being delivered. Now, if you follow that through and the world that we were living in, in the sort of 2010 onwards, it was becoming incredibly obvious that technology, digital skills and opportunities, how we use data was just going to become a bigger and bigger and more important thing. So there was me thinking about, right, how do we improve the lives of our patients? How do we start thinking about population health? How do we start tackling some of the issues of quality and equity that we've got in our system? And you'd be absolutely nuts to not want to utilise everything that we've got in terms of our digital capability. And I felt incredibly lucky to be at an organisation that, strategically, for a long time had been really focused on thinking quite big and bold about digital capability and the sort of plans... We've long had an electronic health record. We were early on in the Global Digital Exemplar phase. And that gave a great opportunity for us to really think about how these things land. But I guess it was easy to watch perhaps some of these amazing technologies being somewhat under-utilised. And I think that's often because we've not really done the people piece. So exactly as Kevin said, the opportunity for us as leaders to work together, to work with our staff, our colleagues and indeed our patients. And we can maybe come a bit to how we get patients involved in this because I think that's another important dimension. Getting people really involved around that early on and recognising the more we could do together, the sum of our parts would be greater, has been really key. So it's very much an ongoing journey. I think we've still got a bucketload of work still to do and there's more we want to try and do around this, but I think we're both really convinced that if you can marry up the people with the processes and some of that really big vision around what tech, what data can do for us, we could get to a really exciting place.
I guess once you two had both realised that there was some synergy there and there was a meeting of minds, you had some work to do to persuade your colleagues, I guess that that was the case. So Kevin, how did you persuade all of the hard IT folk that this is what we needed to do.
So what we have is we have some really high quality technical leadership within Imperial. Really high calibre, really good quality and over, I guess, a period of more than a decade now, we've established really good working relationships with the clinical leadership within the organisation and the operational leadership. I always think of it as there's like three sides to this. There's the clinical, there's the operation and there's a technical and all three of those have to come together in a synergistic way if you're really to deliver the benefit from implementations. So as an organisation... I mean implementing an electronic patient record and as Bob says, we've had the benefit of it for years but it wasn't a simple and straightforward implementation. A really complex implementation that, for a whole variety of reasons about the way in which systems have emerged in the past, that took us a good few years to actually get to the stage where we were putting something in front of clinicians that they could actually use and really drive benefit from. And through that whole phase, we had some real engagement from the clinical leadership around that digital agenda, who had a commitment to start with but stayed through all the challenges and the ups and downs as we were going through that implementation. And then I think they arrived at a stage where we've now got an electronic patient record. They'd been able to help shape that electronic patient record. And we're now really starting to be able to drive the benefit out of it. And it's a benefit in terms of both the way in which they can interact with the patient, but also the value that they can start driving out of the data. And as Bob mentioned, the Global Digital Exemplar programme helped us escalate the way in which we were able to take that agenda forwards, by enabling us to put in place a cohort of divisional chief clinical information officers. So we'd had chief clinical information officer at the trust level, but we were able to have divisional chief clinical information officers. And we were also able to put in clinical leadership around our data agenda and around the way in which we were driving transformation. So I guess it's, coming back to your question, it's about the way in we've been able to collaborate across the organisation over a lot of years, working together to actually tailor that whole agenda forwards.
The other thing I might just chip in on is how we have a real privilege as clinicians in that we're spending lots of our time there in interactions with patients and with their families and with their carers. And that that is an absolute privilege. We work as an organisation where whatever the job you do, you're trying to contribute to that care. Whether you work in finance or you work in IT, or you're the cleaner, or you're helping with the administrative side or in my case, you're the paediatrician. We're all trying to do the same thing together. The privilege I have is that direct interaction. If you like, you're closest to the user case. And I think one of the other key arguments about why this marriage up of people who are working clinically, who understand the improvement and change at a people level, with the technical capabilities, you start to get into conversations around the workflow. You start to get into conversations around what is the user case that we're trying to solve and tackle here? And I think one reflection and it's really lovely to have this conversation actually think, think about the how of how we got to where we've got to over the last decade. It is a genuine, an openness and a real curiosity on both sides of it, the sort of story, to really understand and understand each other's worlds. I'm never going to be a technical expert in the way that Kevin talked about the technical leadership but actually I don't need to be if I'm working in close partnership with the teams. And what happens is over the years is friendships build and people will, if you like the threshold for asking questions and flagging things just goes lower and lower and lower. And people will catch up with each other at the end of the day for a coffee or a beer and say, "Well, how's this going? Let's talk this stuff through." And I think this stuff is hard. It's really... it's difficult. A lot of it's not being done before and doing it in a way that's open, where you're trying to share and learn together as you go along becomes really key. And I just do want to bring in the patient piece. So one of the things I think we've tried to be quite bold about and from quite early on, is bringing... we've had a very strong patient involvement and engagement approach across the trust that we've really looked to build over the last six or seven years. And this area around digital transformation was one of the key places that we started to point that expertise and that input from local patients, from carers and at really quite a strategic level. So I think there's lots of good examples across the country and across the world where people use patients' lived experiences to influence how things are set up and that's incredibly valuable. But I think we've also found that many of our patients can have a very good strategic view around how we utilise data, around how we think about digital implementation, about the acceptability to people around how technology may well change the way care is delivered. And that's been absolutely invaluable to bring them in. So almost there's a third arm to this partnership around the technical side, the clinical and operational as Kevin's described, and then this where's the patient view and voice in and around this. And that's been really rewarding as well.
So Bob, I'd also reflect in this, the way in which we've worked closely with colleagues in our communications department. So not everything works well straight out of the box, does it? And kind of like we've learned a lot of lessons so we do almost like an after-action review when something hasn't landed right. And we've used the quality improvement methodology to reflect on why didn't it land in the way in which it did? And through that process, you'd identify, there's an absolute key role to be played in terms of using professional communications approaches to actually get some of those messages across. So we've had a member of the comms team embedded in the IT team, who sat in those meetings with clinicians, who's worked with us, who's then helped us hone the messages that we've then taken out to the wider organisation. And that's really helped, I think, those messages land, and they've also helped us with the... bringing in the patient voice. So as an organisation, we developed an approach where we've had a group of lay partners that have helped the organisation in terms of its wider planning initiatives and its other approaches to the way in which we're redesigning services. And then we've had a subset of that group that has really helped drive the digital agenda. And we've got to know some of those people really, really well. And they've had a fantastic input into the way in which we've shaped and designed projects. They've sat in the big rooms when we've been discussing how we do up drive the improvement. They've been absolutely material to the way in which we've taken a whole range of initiatives forwards.
Yeah and Kevin, it makes... I totally agree. And I guess when I look to some of the challenges ahead, digital inclusion would be right up at the top of my worry list and I suspect lots of people listening to this conversation. The idea that we would try and approach tackling that agenda without having members of our local community, patients from some of the groups that are most likely to be disadvantaged or excluded, front and central to that, would be absolutely nuts. I mean, you can bet your bottom dollar people are trying it without them, but I think in a sense, the longstanding trust that one builds and I think trust is probably a really important word to come in. But this is based on trust and based on relationships and that's spending time together, that's getting things wrong. And exactly as Kevin said, being able to have this space and reflection to be able to look back and think, actually, we really didn't get that right and we need to try and learn from that so this continuous learning piece. One other bit that I think it's worth just drawing out at a quite strategic level is, I'm interested in, Kevin you and your role, there's sometimes some big things you need to try and land across an executive team, round up a case for investment would be a really good example. And in lots of ways, the case seems dead obvious to you and you've done all the hard work and the business case completely stacks up. But the risk is, is to a big organisation that's busy with a lot of stuff is it can feel a bit on the side and the returns are in the long-term piece, aren't they? The value to patients might be three, four, five years down the line around some sort of impact in long-term conditions or the like. And I think it's been really helpful, Anne, for us to work out about the strategic collaborations across different members of the team. So in fact, Michelle, who Kevin mentioned the communication team. Michelle Dixon, who's our director of communication engagement, really strong advocate for the patient voice. She would really pile in behind some of this stuff. I can come and bring in some of the change aspects and some of the people aspects around the clinical side. I think if we look how we've been as an organisation, Kevin, it's helped us land some of the perhaps quite big, difficult decisions that maybe in years gone by, we might've kicked down the road a bit. I don't know what your thoughts are on that.
No, it's absolutely true. So it's an enormous challenge getting an organisation to want to spend money on IT, isn't it? So you're in a competition with... you've got buildings that have got backlog maintenance on them, you've got medical equipment. Do you want to spend the money on a machine that's going to save a small baby's life or do you want to spend it on IT? You have those kinds of dilemmas, don't you, in the organisation all the time. And it's really about building a coalition, isn't it? Where it's kind of like it's creating a compelling case about why the investment needs to be made, being really clear about the benefits. And I think that the patient voice was... when I think back on the Care Information Exchange and I was just reflecting on... you'll remember we had Parker Moss do a presentation to the annual general meeting around the way in which the Care Information Exchange had had a material impact on the way in which he was able to manage his daughter's health. That was a really powerful message to the organisation about the value of technology, wasn't it? And I'm sure that that was material to us being able to sustain that until we were able to secure ongoing funding for it.
I totally agree. And there's something isn't there about how people whose jobs and roles are in technology and in digital transformation, in the sorts of roles that you've got. There's something about helping the people around you who may be slightly technophobic or certainly the language. I mean you accuse us doctors, Kevin, of talking in strange, in Latin and stuff like that but I mean, you guys take it to a different level. But there's something isn't there about us, about helping people to really understand. And as we touched on earlier, I don't need to be a technical expert in this, but I need to understand enough. I need to know my way around it to have the confidence that I do. And I think thinking about chief execs and boards who've got to make decisions on this stuff, there's something about the capability around technology and digital transformation. That there's a responsibility on us all to make sure that the capability is high enough for people to recognize some of the really key issues. One we haven't touched on, cybersecurity would be another good area to go that good proactive organisations can be taking that stuff very seriously in a proactive, preventative way. It feels to me that we've got quite a team effort in trying to build up that capability across our colleagues.
Yeah, just brought to mind, Bob, you remember we did those digital showcases?
Where we took over one of the education centers and we had a whole series of different presentations aimed at trying to get... in a way it was the, before I die, I just want my PC to be proud of me. It was like, we've got all this digital capability, we just need people to start using it and exploiting it. So we ran these showcases and we must have had several hundred people pass through the event in the course of a morning. And then we took a cut down version of that and we did it for the trust board and the focus of that was it wasn't techie, describing something with 47 PowerPoint slides. It was clinician talking unto clinician about, "Look how I can do this voice recognition and this is really cool." So it was about the clinicians saying how they'd been able to use the digital to transform the way in which they were interacting with their patients and delivering care. And they were sharing that with other clinicians who could then understand it and take it away and exploit it.
Yeah, they were really fundamental for mainstreaming change and actually, you and I always looking for more work together. It just strikes me as we hopefully start sneaking out of COVID and having a few more opportunities, we should really think about getting those going again because I think so much has happened. There's a bit of catch up, isn't there? For everyone who's coming along. So there you go Anne, you might get yourself an invite to one of these crazy showcase events.
I think one of the things that I'm reflecting on is how you've both obviously come together to coalesce around a single idea, which is about improving services for people who need them. And in that you've developed I think, a single language, that you can share across the organisation that everybody can sign up to. So it strikes me that the quality improvement style way of thinking is the thing that's coalesced you around a single purpose. That's what I'm hearing, I think.
Yeah, I think that's a really good spot Anne, although one of the things I... in the sort of quality improvement community that I've hung out with for the last decade, one of the things that I'd be quite critical of us of in a reflective way, is we've slightly shrouded quality improvement in overtechnical language. And if you think about in a sense, I mean, the word quality has complexity to it and lots of different definitions around it. We talk about SPC charts, statistical process control charts, will be plenty of people listening who know exactly what they are, but there'll be other people who will switch off the podcast and not listen to anything more now I've mentioned it. And I think part of the art of being actually good at any job is how do you explain things in a way that is accessible to people, that encourages, that supports people. That's my job as a clinician, to try and explain things to people in the most straightforward way. And I think there's a lovely, sort of shared problem, is that people who've got great expertise in tech and digital are absolutely, as I was teasing Kevin earlier, able to talk in a language that's completely impenetrable, when they're talking about Hadoop clusters or something like that. And likewise, us quality improvement folk, have made the same mistake. And there's something we've done in QI that it's almost as if we've tried to... almost butting up against research have said, look, this is a serious practice quality improvement. It has rigor behind, it has methodology and therefore it's got lots of long words to describe it. And we sort of shot ourselves in the foot because the risk is it gets stuck with what I call the innovators, the early adopters and the evangelists. They're the only people who do this stuff. This has to be, this is the work. This is mainstream, the work. The idea that you can deliver care without thinking about continuously improving it. And without digital technology supporting you and data underpinning it, is nuts and it's only going to grow in that way. That has to be how everybody's delivering care. We've got to make it more accessible. And I think a combined effort across the community who are brought up in a digital sphere and the community who were brought up in an improvement sphere, there's a real chance for us to come together and actually have quite a deliberate conversation around it. How are we going to really make this understandable? And I think as Kevin's pointed out, the clue is to really ask our patients and the communities we're here to serve. How does it land best for them? Because I think that'll also pick up the digital inclusion piece that we just flagged a bit earlier as a bit of a worry.
So then if I was CIO or CCIO in a trust and I was listening to this podcast and I was thinking, yeah, I think they've got something here. I think they're really onto something. Where would you think that they would be best starting?
I think it goes back to Bob's point, it's about relationships really, isn't it? It's about building the relationships between the teams within the organisation and building those coalitions and alliances around a kind of shared set of objectives. And I know that we, as an organisation, have put a lot of effort into developing the values of the organisation. So there's a way in which it resonates with the leadership of the organisation and the direction the organisation is going to travel. Coming back the point about how you secure investment in the digital agenda, you do that by making sure it's aligned with the overall direction of travel that the organisation wants to go in and it's delivering the things that the organisation recognises that it needs. So I think it's about forming those alliances and, and developing those relationships.
Yeah, I totally agree. And I think there's also, with those alliances is finding people who you really deeply get and understand the people side of it. So Kevin talked about his team. Over the years, I've got to know lots and lots of people in the ICT team. And I have a really deep and fundamental belief that their reason for coming and working at Imperial College Healthcare and the NHS is exactly the same reason as my reason for coming in, working as a paediatrician. It really is the same thing, about trying to deliver patient care. And they've got a skill set that I don't have and I've got some things that I can do around. I'm sure some of them would look at trying to put a cannula in a child and think, no thanks. And that's great. And we've all got our skills, but I deeply believe that we're here together to try and achieve the same thing. And what that leads into is all sorts of things. So a little story from COVID is the extraordinary people in Kevin's team, who were right in the heart of our intensive care unit. So all of the pictures in the newspapers and everything, everyone listening saw on their news channels was of doctors and nurses and therapists doing absolutely incredible and extraordinary things. But some of Kevin's team were out there also doing extraordinary things in full PPE, trying to set up communication mechanisms for families to be able to talk to their loved ones because they couldn't come and visit, be a really good example. And quite understandably, a number of people in those situations were very, very anxious about getting COVID themselves. Kevin had a whole load of members of his team, isolating in local hotels, not going back to their families because they were so anxious about taking COVID back to their families. Now, of course we were worrying about that sort of stuff as doctors and nurses but one of the privileges we've got is we hang out with other doctors and nurses and experts in infections. So it's dead easy to say, "Hang on. How worried should I be?" And "Does this PPE really work?" And all these sorts of things. Much harder for Kevin's team, the technical guys who are getting out and setting up the Wi-Fi and the screens and things. So one of the things that I did with the help of one of Kevin's senior managers was, with a lovely colleague of mine, Fran, is we ran a couple of webinars just to basically make ourselves available to, "You can ask us anything you want about this COVID thing. And there'll be a whole load of stuff I don't know the answer to, but we'll have a really good go." And that was just a really nice example about recognising we're all people, we all got our same things that we're so worried about. We're actually all one team trying to do the same thing so you've got to look after each other. And I think that culture is absolutely key and how you get that culture is through leadership and the leadership approach. And that's lots of hard work and lots of commitment to really saying we value people. So I think that story perhaps underpins a really long-standing commitment say, "Look, we're really all in this together. Let's look after each other and let's do our best together for patients."
That's a lovely way to end, I think. And I'm very grateful for both of your time to tell some of this story. I'm really heartened that both of you have seen people, relationships and patients really at the heart of what you're trying to achieve. So thank you. I'm sure lots of people will want to talk to you about this. Thank you very much for your time.
Anne Cooper Thanks so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. And remember to follow the podcast series and sign in to the Innovation Collaborative on the Future NHS platform.