New models of care based on digital technologies – “digital healthcare” – have great potential for disruptive innovation. However, they may also have the potential to cause harm, so it is vital that the evidence about which methods work, where and for whom, is known to NHS commissioners, clinicians, and patients. The problem is that most research studies and systematic reviews of studies are published in obscure journals and abstruse language suitable only for researchers. We have therefore been developing a programme of 1000-word evidence summaries on important new digital health technologies.
As well as disseminating these summaries on paper and via electronic NHS networks, there is a need to promote face-to-face debate preparatory to action, linking evidence with NHS innovation. This would help the NHS across the Midlands and East to decide for itself which technologies to mainstream and which to side-line, and on the steps needed to achieve this.
We are organising 6 bimonthly half day workshops over the next year on digital healthcare topics chosen by NHS M&E. Each workshop will be user owned and action oriented. During the EFI workshop, there will be:
· An overview of the evidence on a topic chosen by NHS participants
· Small group discussion of the implications of the evidence for CCGs, Trusts, clinicians, policy makers, other stakeholders
· Plenary discussion of key barriers to adoption / disinvestment; next steps; problem owners; timescale
· Discuss and agree the digital healthcare topics, NHS commentators on the evidence summary and participants for the next EFI workshop
Benefits for the NHS:
We believe the EFI workshops would lead to the following benefits for the NHS:
1. Faster adoption and spread of safe, effective digital healthcare techniques to innovate across NHS M&E
2. Early identification of potential risks and side effects leading to easier dis-investment decisions about technologies and techniques shown to harm, or which are being used inappropriately in NHS settings.
3. Greater clarity about the role of evidence to support commissioning, clinical and other decisions around digital healthcare
4. The workshop programme could also act as a prototype for EFI workshops for other kinds of intervention, to support innovation across all areas of NHS M&E activity, and act as a core activity of a future Academic Health Sciences Network.
The main findings from the workshop were:
Current use of mobile technology in healthcare in the NHS is common, with most use in sending SMS appointment reminders. Positive cost savings and patient satisfaction have been reported. Future use of mobile technologies in NHS should 1) Focus on local NHS ambition 2) Prioritise projects according to evidence level 3) Use different mobile technologies - Mobile phone Apps have great potential, but other features such as camera, web access, SMS and e-mail can also be beneficial
Clinical, technical and governance issues in the use of mobile phone technologies exist but there are ways forward to tackle these in the future by 1) Looking at the risks v the benefits – stress the benefits 2) Involving patients 3) Understanding the guidance. All the participants found the workshop useful and very informative and would consider using mobile technologies in daily practice.
Download the EFI Warwick Meeting report here