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Service designJul 19, 2022

Physio promoting personalised care as Northern Ireland draft digital strategy unveiled

Emily* is a physiotherapist based at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry (Derry). She features alongside a patient called Maureen Quinn in a publication titled Digital Strategy: Health and social care Northern Ireland 2022-2030, which was released in draft form earlier this month.

The item, headed Personalisation of Care, aims to show how digital solutions focusing on ‘systems integration and streamlined information flows can optimise efficiency and productivity across care delivery and operations’.

Readers are told that Emily’s patients have a single digital record that is shared across all care settings, which means she can see the same information as other healthcare professionals involved in the patient’s care journey.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
NHS letters on the way out, but patients can still opt to receive them through the post

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Personalisation agenda 

‘When Emily treats Maureen, she can see if the orthopaedic consultant has added any further recommendation or changes to Maureen’s treatment plan. Emily feels secure in the knowledge that Maureen’s health and care information is up to date,' the section continues.

‘Emily spends less time writing paper letters and emails – instead she fills out one concise form which enables her to spend more time with her patients. Emily doesn’t waste time having to log in multiple times as there are far fewer systems that she needs to use.'

*Emily’s surname is given as Kiley and Jones in different parts of the publication.

Patient's view

We learn that Maureen, aged 74 and retired, has severe arthritis and is being treated for loss of mobility by a physiotherapy team and orthopaedic specialist.

Maureen has become more forgetful and sees a range of therapists and doctors, but her digital care record is updated at every appointment, so she doesn’t need to remember everything for the next healthcare professional that she sees.

‘Everyone is aware of her history and conditions when she arrives at appointments which makes her feel safe and saves time during appointments,' we learn.

If Maureen's condition changes and she needs to be referred elsewhere, a digital referral is generated immediately. She can opt to receive confirmation by phone or through the post, the section concludes.

Cultural changes afoot

Elsewhere, the publication states that the aim is to develop a culture ‘that embraces digital and data’ by, in part, building ‘digital capabilities into teams and roles at all levels by design’.

Revamped appraisal systems will staff members must ‘demonstrate digital progression for promotion’, with digital activities being valued ‘alongside’ clinical ones. Staff time commitments will also be revised so that they have protected time for digital training courses.

Three commitments are given in a section titled Leadership and digital culture. These are

  • to build digital capabilities into teams and roles at all levels by design
  • to upskill and transform our leaders into digital champions
  • to reward the ‘scale and spread’ mindset, as opposed to local, siloed innovation

Our system has been tested in ways we had not experienced before and we are proud of the role that digital has played in supporting our dedicated and tireless teams and the population of Northern Ireland, to continue to deliver and access critical services during this period [Dan West]

Dan West, chief digital information office at Northern Ireland Department of Health, said in a foreword that two key events influenced the development of the Health and Social Care digital strategy: the 2016 five-year eHealth and Care Strategy and the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic is the most significant health event of the past century and has had an unprecedented impact on global health and social care systems, including our own here in Northern Ireland.'

Mr West added: ‘Our system has been tested in ways we had not experienced before and we are proud of the role that digital has played in supporting our dedicated and tireless teams and the population of Northern Ireland, to continue to deliver and access critical services during this period.'

To see the Northern Ireland eHealth and Care Strategy, visit: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/ehealth-and-care-strategy

Pippa McCabe, chief allied health professions information officer for South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, issued the following tweet on 14 July urging people to respond to the draft stratgy.
 
'Been waiting for this? Now’s your chance to give feedback on the strategy outlining the future of digital in health and social care in NI. #digiAHPNI please get stuck in.' @pippa_mccabe 

To see a full version of the draft strategy, visit: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/doh-hscni-digital-strategy-final.pdf

Author: Ian A McMillan
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