As digital technology increasingly offers exciting
opportunities to enhance and transform the way patients are cared
for, a number of NHS Trusts across the North East have made a
formal agreement to collaborate on digital health services for the
benefit of their patients.
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
has been effectively using digital solutions across a number of its
services for several years, combining technology developed by
Harrogate- based digital health specialists, Inhealthcare Limited,
and the clinical expertise of medical and other healthcare
professionals. This successful and award-winning collaboration led
the Trust to establish Healthcall Solutions Limited to further
develop the use of digital technology. In a bold move, the Trust
has now awarded shares in the company to neighbouring NHS acute
trusts in return for active participation and collaboration.
Ian Dove, Director at Healthcall Solutions,
explained, "The company is a vehicle for redefining best practice,
recognising specialities and accessing the diversity of care
expertise in the North East which has a population of over three
"Healthcall Solutions will enable professionals in
the North East and across the UK, to implement digital care at
scale, supporting care organisations to design, develop and
implement digital care services at speed.
"There are so many ways that digital technology can
enhance care, patient experience and the effectiveness of our
services. For example, County Durham and Darlington NHS
Foundation Trust uses digital technology to support patients who
use Warfarin which requires regular monitoring, including blood
tests. Traditionally, this means attending an outpatient clinic but
digital technology means those patients who are happy to do so can
take a pin prick blood sample at home and submit the readings using
a hand held device. These results are assessed by a nurse
specialist who is also available for advice and who contacts any
patient whose reading is a cause for concern. Our patients
love this service, it saves them the time and bother of coming to
clinic - they can even submit their readings from overseas if
they go on holiday. One benefit we didn't anticipate was the
sense of empowerment patients have when self-monitoring - they work
especially hard at managing their condition in order to get a good
reading. Other UK NHS organisations have purchased this
technology from us as it's not only great for patients but means
clinics can focus on patients with the greatest need.
"We also use the technology to support
patients who are trying to lose weight and conversely those who are
at risk of becoming undernourished, monitoring diet, lifestyle,
including exercise, and their weight.
"The NHS in the North East is very good at
collaboration and sharing ideas and services to make sure our
patients get the very best care possible. It makes sense to
extend this into the digital age so when one trust identifies an
opportunity to use technology we'll all be able to use it.
This avoids the risk of wasting time and resources that are
potentially duplicating development across organisations."
In addition to County Durham and Darlington NHS
Foundation Trust, the trusts involved in Healthcall are Newcastle
Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria Healthcare NHS
Foundation Trust, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, North Tees
and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees
Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Ian Dove, adds, "One of the first shared digital
pathways has been developed by Gateshead Health's smoking cessation
service, which supports patients trying to stop smoking by sending
supportive messages and contacts with clinicians if needed.
Patients can opt to be contacted via email, text or an app and
evidence indicates that this kind of support is effective during
the process of stopping smoking. It's exciting that this
collaboration means all our patients can now benefit and we have a
number of other digital solutions in the pipeline."
Chief executive of County Durham and Darlington NHS
Foundation Trust, Sue Jacques, said, "This is a bold and forward
thinking step which I'm immensely proud of. Sharing knowledge
and expertise is transforming the experience and care provided to
patients across many of our services."
Published 29 November 2017
'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient
ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough
- could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'
Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community