Three projects designed to tackle health inequalities, cut waiting lists and improve patient care and safety at two NHS hospitals in West Yorkshire have been shortlisted for a series of prestigious awards.
The innovative developments are the work of The Health Informatics Service (THIS) and its host trust, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT), and have been implemented at CHFT’s two hospitals – Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax.
Following scrutiny by a diverse range of highly influential and respected figures within the healthcare community, the projects have been shortlisted in the inaugural HSJ (Health Service Journal) Digital Awards, which aim to shine a light on the outstanding efforts and achievements that individuals and teams across the digital sector deliver on a daily basis.
Peter Howson, THIS’ Commercial Director, says:
“This really is wonderful news – the fact we’ve been shortlisted four times in the HSJ Digital Awards 2023 is undoubtedly a huge ‘pat on the back’ for our amazingly hard working and deserving teams.
“Our staff, and those of the trust, always go above and beyond to improve patient outcomes and quality of service and care – and aligning with the HSJ Digital Awards programme really allows us to share our success as well as everything we’ve learnt through implementing our projects.”
Tackling health inequalities
A project to tackle health inequalities has been shortlisted for two awards after it created a dramatic improvement in waiting times for elective surgery among certain patient groups, particularly those in minority ethnic communities and those in areas of high deprivation.
Analysis carried out by Elland-based THIS found that patients from a minority ethnic background were waiting almost eight weeks longer, on average, than white patients for a ‘priority two’ (P2) operation – which NHS guidelines state should be treated within a month of prioritisation.
It also found patients from the most deprived communities were waiting 8.5 weeks longer than those from better off areas.
Since then, average waiting times for both groups have almost disappeared thanks to digital prioritisation markers being applied to patients in at-risk categories and those with other characteristics, such as learning disabilities, frailty, obesity and mental health issues.
This has led to the introduction of individual patient planning, a new care pathway in the trust’s electronic patient record (EPR), where a flag identifies patients on referral.
Individual priority pathways for patients with a learning disability is sustaining the change, as is a children’s waiting list validation and prioritisation process and dedicated vaccine clinics.
Pioneering integration improves patient safety
The second project to capture the attention of the judging panel was a first-of-type scheme to integrate CHFT’s EPR with its EMIS pharmacy stock control system to digitise and streamline the entire process of nurses requesting and pharmacy supplying medication, in a way which would enhance patient safety.
Previously, requests were made in the EPR and then manually entered into EMIS. By directly transferring the medication data from one system to the other, it minimises the risk of human error by avoiding manual transcription, as well as speeding up the medication supply process.
It also ensures adherence to the ‘five rights’ of medication supply – the right patient obtaining the right medication, in the right strength, frequency and form with clear directions for administration on the label.
Cutting waiting times for elective surgery
The third project that will feature at the awards in June is a process to cut waiting times for elective surgery while removing a cumbersome and time-consuming manual process for validating the lists in question.
By adding a digital solution known as MPage for prioritisation to its EPR, clinicians working at the two hospitals now see real-time patient lists, which is helping to speed up the trust’s waiting list validation process, reducing a post-COVID backlog by increasing efficiency, and preventing the creation of unnecessary appointments.
The new system saved 91 hours of clinicians’ time in one calendar month alone, whilst also preventing 5,000 unnecessary appointments, ultimately reducing waiting times to benefit patient care.
The four categories in which THIS and CHFT have been nominated are:
- Reducing health inequalities through digital and Generating impact in population health through digital – both for its health inequalities submission.
- Optimising clinical pathways through digital – for its EPR/pharmacy integreation submission.
- Supporting elective recovery through digital – for its MPage for prioritisation submission.
The selected winners will be announced during the awards ceremony at Manchester Central on June 22nd 2023.