Video conferencing supports quality improvement and innovation across Northern Ireland trust
South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, based at Ulster Hospital in Northern Ireland, provides acute hospital services and community health and social services for five local districts. It covers a large geographical area, spreading across areas of relative wealth and prosperity as well those experiencing considerable deprivation and need. Its services extend to accommodate approximately 340,000 residents and another 100,000 people from outside the Ttrust area. The trust employs in the region of 10,000 staff across a range of disciplines from admin and clerical roles to professional and technical.
I am passionate about using technology to help us create the NHS of the future
In June 2011 Edwin Poots, Minister for Health and Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, announced there would be a review of health and social care service provision. By doing this, the quality and accessibility of services could be assessed against the needs of patients, clients, carers and communities. This resulted in a new model for integrated health and social care.
This review, Transforming Your Care , made it clear to the trust that it needed to think more strategically in its approach towards the improvement of current processes, to innovate and implement a higher standard of patient care and professional development capabilities.
Due to the remoteness of the population, and the large geographical area, a solution was needed to connect healthcare professionals, regardless of their location. This would mean connecting doctors with specialists outside of the trust, conducting and trialing virtual clinics, reaching patients unable to visit the hospital, improving training and education of staff and trainees, and creating an environment where innovation could thrive.
“It is usually staff on the frontline who are best placed to see how we can do things better," said Hugh McCaughley, trust chief executive.
"We have to empower them to innovate, reform and improve our services. For this to happen, we have to create a culture of continual improvement and learning - where staff feel their ideas are welcomed, valued and encouraged.
“The world of healthcare does not stand still for a minute and there is a great opportunity to meet the many challenges facing health systems if we harness technology and the innovative energy of our staff.”
Having previously worked with Questmark on video based projects which were very successful, and through research which showed video use fitted into seven of the 12 themes of Transforming Your Care , the trust decided to roll out a standardised video conferencing model and provide a single interface.
“Having tested out a number of products with video capabilities, we realised that Lifesize offered the best quality and most cost-effective service, said Darren Henderson, ICT services manager at South Eastern HSC Trust.
“We’ve now successfully rolled out video using a range of Lifesize systems throughout the trust and in the Quality Improvement and Innovation Centre (QIIC).”
It is usually staff on the frontline who are best placed to see how we can do things better
In April 2014, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust extended its dedication to Transforming Your Care by opening the Quality Improvement and Innovation Centre, a central hub to support and develop staff while encouraging shared expertise and innovation of services.
The QIIC is divided to facilitate two initiatives, professional development and innovation. Within the centre there are three syndicate rooms and a large hub area, with various breakout areas, which include video PODs and portable display units with touch screen capability. There is also a 75-seat lecture theatre and an area dedicated to education, which consists of a training room, simulation room and control room.
All of these facilities contain video conferencing technology that includes Lifesize Express220s, which are used in the training and meeting rooms; and a Lifesize 220i integrator (room system), which is used in the main auditorium. Lifesize VideoCentre is also used in the education centre to film and record practical training sessions.
Staff and trainees, as well as multi-professional teams across the trust can now visit the QIIC to make use of the numerous resources it offers, such as meeting and training rooms, practical support and guidance from educational staff and facilities for collaboration with colleagues and specialists who would not otherwise be accessible. It also enables practical learning facilities for real-time skills analysis.
The Questmark team has provided training to staff and students to ensure that those using the QIIC have full confidence in using the equipment. This means that they’re able to make full use of the centre and all it’s various offerings to increase the impact on training and patient care.
Through the use of video staff can host meetings with remote parties, such as patients, specialists and trust staff, watch and record practical training sessions, stream presentations hosted in the hub and syndicate rooms and host virtual clinics. The connected experience offered by video technology capabilities also means that for the first time patients get access to healthcare experts regardless of their location.
Training and professional development capabilities have also been vastly improved through video technology as trainees have access to a high fidelity simulation suite. Within this suite medical students can practice high-risk scenarios using two dummies, Adult Sim Man and BabySim, which simulate conditions that students must attempt to treat. This is done in a room with a one-way glass window that the students cannot see out of, but tutors can see into. By using video technology students can film, record and then play back to review their performance in real-time. This opportunity is central to the development of trainees as it enables evaluation of practical skills and allows tutors to track individual improvements and challenges.
The partnership with Questmark and LifeSize has enabled the trust to be a leader in the use of this technology in delivering a better standard of patient care.
Using video technology we are able to deliver a connected healthcare experience, continue to innovate, and implement the highest standard of service
“With the opening of the QIIC we’re able to offer a much-richer learning experience for our trainees and encourage collaboration and sharing of expertise. Without facilities like the simulation suite, this practical education would be much more limited. The use of video technology is transforming the way we operate,” said Dr Richard Corry, consultant anesthetist at South Eastern Trust HSC.
The trust understands that continued dedication to professional development will drive its ambitions forward and instill in those trainees and staff members it trains and supports, a sense of passion for a high level of care. As a result this education will become an example of best practice of the future.
“For us at the trust it’s about opportunities," said McCaughey.
"The QIIC offers huge opportunities for our staff, patients and students, as well as the wider community. I am passionate about using technology to help us create the NHS of the future. In remote areas, where the population is sparse, it is vital that patients receive the best care possible regardless of their location. Using video technology we are able to deliver a connected healthcare experience, continue to innovate, and implement the highest standard of service.”