Improved patient care is at the heart of a new digital design initiative at the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley. Here, Connected Healthcare’s project manager, Ceri Batchelder, tells us more.
Almost on a daily basis we hear about the pressures on our national health service, the NHS. People are living longer, often with one or more long-term conditions, and Accident & Emergency departments are massively stretched, against a landscape of tough budget constraints.
Digital innovation has been highlighted by NHS England as a way to help alleviate some of these pressures, by creating new cost-effective healthcare solutions and systems.
In fact, digital health technologies are already having an impact. These examples cited by the King’s Fund are being used to varying extents in the NHS and internationally to transform care.
Closer to home, at the latest Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) Digital Ecosystem event, Richard Quine of Harrogate-based Inhealthcare said that digital health should even be considered as a new branch of medicine since it enables the design of services in new ways.
Inhealthcare itself has recently provided the technology platform for the PainSense app, developed by the Advanced Digital Institute in Shipley, for use by NHS Leeds West Clinical Commissioning Group. The app supports people in self-managing their pain, empowering them as well as reducing demand on NHS services. See this article in the Yorkshire Post and Inhealthcare’s blog post on this issue.
Connected Healthcare Design Challenge at DMC
Window of opportunity
This backdrop means that traditional medical device companies may not have all the required capabilities for digital health innovation and provides a window for tech entrepreneurs, digital designers and developers to bring their skills to the table.
Barnsley’s Digital Media Centre Project Director Tracey Johnson spotted an opportunity for the creative and digital sector in the region and the Connected Healthcare programme was born. Along with the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, Tech North was an early sponsor of the programme and this endorsement and ongoing support has helped it fly.
Following an initial networking and technology showcase event on 21 January, we are now in the heart of the programme, between two hackathon-style days called the Yorkshire & Humber Digital Health Design Challenge.
We have eight healthcare challenges championed by clinical staff and patient representatives from the NHS – from Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The challenges include real-life aspects of patient care such as maternity care, supporting people with learning disabilities, prevention of pressure ulcers and dementia care.
Co-creation of digital solutions
Through selection of entries in the Design Challenge competition, a digital specialist or agency was matched with each healthcare challenge area. On the first Design Challenge day, on 3 March, they were introduced to the NHS staff and patients leading each challenge and the combined teams then went through a co-discovery and design process. Right from the start there was a buzz in the room as the clinicians and patients described the challenges and the teams discussed potential digital solutions – all helped by some expert facilitation led by Victoria Betton, Director at mHabitat.
University researchers with experience in user-centred design of health technologies, as well as experts in the commercialisation of digital health technology and intellectual property, were on hand throughout the process to guide participants. Next, the teams will start to turn their ideas into prototypes on day 2 of the Design Challenge on 20 April.
Leading the way
The Yorkshire & Humber Digital Health Design Challenge is based on a similar project organised by Greater Manchester AHSN and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust last year, though on a larger scale.
We’re excited to be working together with Tech North and our other partners in this way and anticipate that the Connected Healthcare programme will lead directly to the development of new digital health products and services. To help make this happen, a Connected Healthcare ‘Access to Finance and Business Support’ event, for those in the creative and digital community with an interest in digital health, will be held on 10 June 2016 at the Digital Media Centre.