Key Learnings from Supporting NHS Digital Transformation of Respiratory Care
We are excited to be attending the NHSConfed Expo this week, along with our partners Digital Health London and Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Science Network. We’ll be sharing our experiences and learnings from supporting digital transformation of care for chronic respiratory conditions across the NHS. We have now supported multiple NHS organisations with programmes spanning a number of respiratory indications, including:
Lung transplant - at Manchester University, University Hospitals Birmingham and Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Trusts.
Interstitial Lung Disease - at Imperial College Healthcare, Guy’s and St Thomas’s, Royal Devon University Healthcare, University Hospitals of Leicester and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trusts.
Cystic Fibrosis - at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. See the case study included in the NHS Transformation Directorate digital playbook.
Key Learnings for Implementing a Virtual Care Pathway
With significant experience establishing programmes in the UK and internationally, we can provide guidance for partners who are implementing new virtual care pathways for respiratory conditions. Our top recommendations of how to approach the initial planning stage are summarised below, but our insights encompass all elements of establishing a virtual care programme - from planning, training and deployment, patient considerations, integrating virtual care into existing protocols, through to the importance of review and audit.
Our Top Recommendations when Planning a Virtual Care Pathway
- Invest time now for long term gain: Adopting new technology and the associated changes in pathway design does mean additional workload, particularly for the staff leading the change. However, transformation can be achieved quickly, in our experience typically around a month, but as quickly as just two-weeks. Short term “pain” can certainly produce long term gain. Investing time now on internal planning and stakeholder engagement can make the process of transformation faster and easier.
- Identify your aims and objectives at the start: Clearly define what you are seeking to achieve through use of virtual care technologies. This will make it easier to subsequently plan the programme and implement appropriate pathways. For example, is your key need to facilitate data enabled virtual appointments? Or do you need to identify potential patient issues early, for rapid triage? Are there shared care considerations? Clearly defining your aims will also make it easier to determine what outcomes to measure as part of your project evaluation.
- Engage with patients during your project design: There can often be preconceptions of what patients need and what they will or will not want. Preparing a simple questionnaire and asking open questions during consultations to a representative sample of patients will help your project design and support long term engagement.
- Engage with internal stakeholders early on: Hospital procurement departments, IT, clinical safety, as well as clinicians with shared care responsibilities may have particular requirements that require consideration before you select a provider and plan a new pathway. Communicate the aims of transformation across the extended team so everyone understands the need for change and the ultimate benefits.
- Use shared learnings: Clinicians in other centres are usually amenable to sharing their experiences of digital transformation and can provide access to documentation such as standard operating procedures or other materials. We always seek to facilitate this process for new users of patientMpower technology.
- Plan for an interoperable future: It is important that virtual care, and the extra data that may come with it, is integrated into standard healthcare practices. It may not be possible to have the perfect interoperable solution from day 1, but ensure it is considered as part of the project lifecycle. Integrated data enables consistent and holistic care for patients as they move across the health system.