As a Global Digital Examplar, Salford Royal was already exploring the art of the possible, investing in tech-based solutions to improve digital healthcare across the hospital.

As part of this process, it had identified a need for a better, more integrated Public Health Records (PHR) system, one that would allow patients and clinicians to interact with their own data.

Salford Royal’s existing PHR system wasn’t meeting its growing needs, leaving patients and clinicians unable to access their data. The hospital was looking for an established partner to help them implement a new solution. Impressed both by Accenda’s reputation as an effective digital healthcare integrator and our status as an Allscripts Development Partner, we were invited in to offer our thoughts on how best to address the problem.

Following in-depth discussions with Rachel Dunscombe, Salford Royal’s Chief Information Officer, we were able to reassure the hospital we knew exactly how to approach the challenges of implementing such a system. We understood the context: how closed systems kept data from being easily accessed and the advantages of patients being able to interact with their own data, and we had the technical expertise to create the right kind of digital solution.

The GDE team held interview sessions with both clinicians and patients, speaking about what data would be meaningful to them, before analysing their responses and feeding it back into our own thinking. Incorporating this information into our digital-focussed approach, we were able to identify what clinical data was and wasn’t relevant, as well as highlighting the need for a clean, attractive and then easy-to-use visual interface.

Within only a matter of weeks, we had created a web application prototype. This prototype not only enabled patients to login remotely and view data about them in the hospital’s PHR (something the previous closed systems didn’t allow them to do), but was also compatible with the openEHR architecture the hospital already used. Most efficiently, this integrated approach allowed us to work incredibly quickly, using this existing technology stack as a foundation, rather than using new, proprietary software that would have taken much longer.

To showcase the solution’s simplicity and effectiveness, we created a demo to show to the hospital. This demo ended up being presented to Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a tour of Salford Royal. Mr Hancock has long been a proponent of digital healthcare and a believer in its ability to solve a variety of problems, so this was exactly his type of system.

The proof of concept showed the ‘art of the possible’, integrating seamlessly into Salford Royal’s existing systems. But the Accenda team is never one to rest on its laurels, always looking for new ways to push things forward. In a meeting with the senior team, we were made aware of the rheumatology expert Dr Will Dixon and the work he was doing with the Remora App, a tool designed to counteract some of the negative effects of long-term health issues, and we teamed up with him to rebuild the prototype mobile application.

Dr Dixon’s work is about giving patients a better understanding of their own data. The Remora App allows people with rheumatoid arthritis to track their symptoms in real time using a 0-10 scale on a mobile app. As many patients only see their clinicians once a month, many forget flare-ups or give incomplete accounts of their symptoms. The Remora app allows them to be more accurate, which in turn allows clinicians to provide better care and more tailored therapy. It also saves the NHS money and frees up resources, as the clinicians now have the data to prioritise patients who need care, and re-allocating those who are at lower-risk to later, less pressing appointments.

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