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Impact review 2020-21: digital transformation

With the challenges of the Covid pandemic, the ability to manage people remotely in care homes became an essential tool in preventing any potential spread of infection.

Dr Shanil Mantri GP and Clinical Digital Advisor to West of England AHSN

What we have been able to achieve in the rapid deployment and adoption of digital solutions during the pandemic has been incredible.

Dr Michael Marsh South West Regional Medical Director & Chief Clinical Information Officer, NHS England and NHS Improvement

Scaling up remote monitoring across the South West

£3 million +

secured by the AHSNs in funding from NHSX to scale up use of remote monitoring

The scale and pace of digital transformation required during the last year was unprecedented and the tireless effort from so many AHSN staff was critical to the successful delivery across the South West region – a big thank you to all involved.

Steve Trowell West Regional Director for Digital Transformation, NHS England and NHS Improvement

We partnered with the South West and Wessex AHSNs to support ambitious plans to work together as an entire health and care system to make best use of available technologies to support our most vulnerable residents.

Our Scaling Up Remote Monitoring programme is focused in particular on residents in care homes, those who live with frailty, and people with learning disabilities.

This work is supported by NHSX, who have funded each of the seven NHS England and NHS Improvement regions to form an Innovation Collaborative to accelerate use of remote monitoring technology to support people in their own home setting.

The three strands of our programme are:

  • Improving remote monitoring of residents in care homes
  • Providing better support for people with learning disabilities
  • Clinical communications to support quicker, more effective clinical decision-making for the most vulnerable patients.

This is not simply a technology programme. It is an opportunity to use a ‘learning by doing’ transformative approach, which builds knowledge and skills to enable frontline teams to co-produce real and lasting improvements for our population.

As part of this programme, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Partnership (one of our local integrated care systems) has piloted use of SystmOne in care homes with the aim of providing more joined-up clinical care. SystmOne is a solution already used by most GP practices. Early feedback from the pilot shows clear benefits from care homes being able to access up-to-date clinical information on each resident and easier communication with GPs.

Steve Trowell, South West Regional Director for Digital Transformation, NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “The scale and pace of digital transformation required during the last year was unprecedented and the tireless effort from so many AHSN staff was critical to the successful delivery across the South West region – a big thank you to all involved. The multi-agency ‘blended team’ approach and alignment and coordination of the three South West AHSNs around common digital transformation objectives in the region proved to be remarkably effective, and we look to build on these new ways of working as we embrace the next set of challenges and digital opportunities over coming months.”

Dr Michael Marsh, South West Regional Medical Director & Chief Clinical Information Officer, NHS England and NHS Improvement, added: “What we have been able to achieve in the rapid deployment and adoption of digital solutions during the pandemic has been incredible. This required a change of mindset, a willingness to make leaps of faith by teams to new ways of working, and expertise and meticulous work from teams including the AHSNs to make this possible. The collective effort has made amazing changes happen.”

Supporting rollout of online patient triage and video consultation in primary care

The AHSNs already had established a strong network of digital leads across all parts of the health system, which meant the right people could be brought around the table to facilitate rapid decision-making.

Janina Cross Chief Digital Transformation Officer, West of England AHSN

100%

of GP practices in the region installed video consultation systems with AHSN support

83%

of GP practices in the region introduced online triage with AHSN support

As part of the regional system’s response to Covid-19, we quickly mobilised our team members to support GP practices in the West of England to introduce digital technologies to enable patients to connect with them remotely through online or video consultation.

There was an obvious need to minimise footfall into practices to reduce risk of infection for both staff and patients. The need for self-isolation was also seen with many GPs and practice staff needing to work from home. In March 2020 NHS England and Improvement requested that primary care move to a ‘Total Triage’ model with all initial patient contact via telephone or online capabilities.

We joined forces with colleagues in neighbouring AHSNs in Wessex and the South West to ensure full implementation across the entire region.

All practices in the West are now using video consultation systems, while 83% have online triage in place.

“The AHSNs already had established a strong network of digital leads across all parts of the health system (operational, clinical, executive), which meant the right people could be brought around the table to facilitate rapid decision-making,” explains Janina Cross, the West of England AHSN’s Chief Digital Transformation Officer.

“The three AHSNs used their quality improvement (QI) training and coaching skills and proven spread methodologies to ensure as many practices as possible were supported through the process.”

Digital leaders’ network

214

digital leaders are active members of our regional network

We continue to coordinate the West of England digital leaders’ network, which now has 214 active members from across our healthcare community.

This network provides an ideal space for chief information officers (CIO), chief clinical information officers (CCIO), chief nursing information officers (CNIO) and emerging clinical digital leaders to connect with colleagues across the region to discuss and share best practice on the local challenges they are facing.

As a result of this network, we were several steps ahead in our system response when Covid-19 forced 570 GP practices across the South West region to close their doors and were in urgent need of digital solutions. We were able to swiftly bring digital leads together to coordinate and galvanise the right people around a practical plan of action.

Read more about our digital transformation work