HTN Now Awards 2021 feature: best solutions for supporting patients

As the HTN Now Awards 2021 approach, we continue to build up to the big day on Friday 22 January, by looking in-depth at our awards categories and topics. In this feature, it’s time to take a look at some of the best solutions for supporting patients in healthcare this year.
Our submissions to this award category illustrate intelligent ways that health professionals have been adapting technology to find answers to patient ‘problems’, relating to access to autism education, through to encouraging people to self-manage their health through patient records.
We’ll take a closer look at the case studies provided by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation (CUH) and Whittington Health NHS Trust, to get to the heart of how small transformations can make a big difference.
Whittington designs “What is Autism?” workshop
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Islington Social Communication Team (SCT) within Whittington Health NHS Trust offered face-to-face training and psychoeducation workshops for parents and carers of children with a diagnosis of autism.
They were created as part of long-term awareness of the importance of parent training for improving parent-child two-way play and communication. The workshops were highly rated at a local level, which is evidenced by 125 families attending the SCT’s “What is Autism?” workshops in the year ending March 2020.
From the attendees, 99% reported that they were likely or extremely likely to recommend it to other families. So, when the first coronavirus lockdown began, the SCT were concerned about the impact of families not being able to access this support.
As a solution, to keep on supporting their users, they developed a video “What is Autism?” workshop that could be shared with families via a password protected Vimeo link – which was both accessible option and met information governance needs. The SCT told us that this has allowed them to continue to provide ‘high quality post-diagnostic support to families in a timely manner’.
Feedback on the solution was ‘overwhelmingly positive’, according to the SCT. It included:

91% of families surveyed said they were extremely likely to recommend the video workshops to friends and family in need of similar help, and that they found the workshops they had accessed very beneficial.
63% said they felt more confident in helping their child at home after watching the video workshop.
91% said they agreed or strongly agreed that it was useful to be offered the workshop in video format.

As well as offering an alternative, SCT revealed that is digital solution means they no longer have any waiting lists for this type of support. They told us that families may have previously had to wait weeks, while 33 families were sent the link to the introductory “What is Autism?” workshop in October 2020 alone.
The video workshops were also found to be more cost-effective. Running each workshop for 10 families would previously have required two clinicians for approximately three hours. But following the success of the initial video workshop, the team also created workshops covering Occupational Therapy, Sleep, and Communication – and since September, these have been shared with 28, 17, and 35 families respectively, many more than would have been reached by face-to-face sessions.
Cambridge embraces MyChart patient record management 
The MyChart patient portal at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) enables 85,000 plus patients at Addenbrookes and The Rosie hospitals with electronic access to their hospital health record.
Appointment information, clinical correspondence, results, conditions, medications, allergies and vitals are all viewable and able to be added to. These details are automatically pulled into a patient’s MyChart after the information has been documented by clinicians in real-time within the Trust’s Epic electronic patient record (EPR).
Through MyChart, which is accessible via a secure website or app, patients can complete and submit pre-appointment information, for use during their next appointment. CUH tells us that this helps makes appointments more effective as clinicians can better prepare and have more meaningful conversations.
Patients can amend aspects of their information rather than having to make unnecessary hospital visits, or calls to their GP, and they can contact their clinical teams directly within MyChart if they have any questions.
The software is also useful for busy clinics. Within haematology, for example, patients no longer need an appointment for routine blood tests. Instead, their blood is taken, the result reviewed by their doctor in the EPR and then released to the patient’s MyChart. The overbooking of these clinics has significantly reduced from an average of 71% per month to 17%.
Additional functionality has been developed over the past two years, with the notable introduction of automatic results release. Around 12,000 test results per month are automatically released to a patient’s MyChart account as soon as the details have been entered into the patient’s record. This means that people receive their results quicker and that patients are more informed and empowered.
In January 2020, proxy access was also enabled. This functionality allows parents and guardians to access their children’s hospital health records, and for patients to upload pictures of rashes and wounds, to help support better care.
In relation to the CUH’s COVID-19 response, we’re told that clinicians have been using MyChart to engage with patients to share information and any changes to their care or appointments. Much of the Trust’s workforce is now registered with MyChart as results of COVID-19 asymptomatic, symptomatic and antibody testing is sent electronically within 24 hours of the test occurring.
Key stats worth noting:

Over 20,000 patients, including staff, registered with MyChart during the first five months of the pandemic.
This time last year almost 25,000 CUH patients were using MyChart but that number is now almost 86,000.

In the current climate, having access to your own information online is proving more important than ever, providing both a useful solution to reducing unnecessary footfall in healthcare settings, protecting both patients and staff, as well as a reassuring presence and level of control for patients at home.
We’re looking forward to hearing more about both projects in the ‘Best Solution to Support Patients’ category at the HTN Now Awards 2021. View the awards presentations on our site throughout day or get live Twitter updates @health1tech.
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