Digital health innovation in the NHS: the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital approach

BJ-HC spoke to representatives from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its charity, CW+, about digital health innovation success and the importance of frontline clinician support.
By Leontina Postelnicu
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Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

During the past year, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its charity, CW+, have been showing how digital health innovation can truly take off in a large healthcare organisation if the right type of support is at hand.

In 2016, the trust and CW+ secured eight digital health collaborations, working with more than 45 frontline clinicians across two hospital sites, with six of them designed with companies from the first cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator, of which CW+ is a founding partner.

These included a pilot of a new compliant messaging system, an 18-month Augmented Reality in surgery project, a vital signs trial with around 2,000 patients, another usability and efficacy trial for a novel stoma bag sensor, digitising quality inspection for 40 wards and specialist departments, two telecare pilots for minor burns and physiotherapy, all linked to ‘clear quality improvement metrics and frontline clinician leadership’, according to CW+ representatives.

At the launch of the second cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator in September, Sunita Sharma, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the trust, presented her work with Lumeon in digitising the postnatal ward discharge process, another CW+ project.

Funded by the charity, it aims to reduce postnatal discharge waiting times to under two hours, freeing up around 1,000 bed days per year.

 

"In a year, we’ve gone from going out and asking people to meet up with us to having a rather constant stream of collaboration proposals."

Chris Chaney, CW+

“Key to all this work has been a rather bottom-up theory of change based on multidisciplinary support of frontline clinicians. We have realised just how much support digital health innovation needs, far beyond ‘matchmaking’ and ‘funding’.

“This is a key learning and a core element of what we have achieved this year,” Dr Lawrence Petalidis, Head of Innovation and Impact for CW+, told BJ-HC. 

Dr Zoe Penn, the trust’s Medical Director, explained the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator represents a ‘key component’ in the charity’s work to transform the experience of patients through innovation.

However, beyond this collaboration, the trust and CW+ have been working on a number of other projects.

Towards the end of November last year, a new app called Hand Therapy was launched to help staff care for hand injury patients and the second version of the Mum and Baby maternity app was also released.

Before that, CW+ and the trust received £3m from The Khoo Teck Puat UK Foundation to help create a new state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit set to open in 2020, bringing the ‘latest advances in clinical design and technology’, according to Chris Chaney, Chief Executive of CW+.

As part of this drive, the trust partnered with Drayson Technologies to trial the use of wireless environmental sensors across intensive care units at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The pilot is part of the CW+ Critical Care Campaign, a £12.5 million campaign in partnership with the trust which will significantly redevelop and expand the adult and neonatal intensive care units at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Dr Penn added that the collaboration with Drayson Technologies will allow a new level of monitoring of hospital conditions to help ‘create the best possible environment’ for patients.

The charity also recently announced that it would partner with the London Microsoft Accelerator, aiming to strengthen its access to innovations that could improve patient experience and the quality of care, marking a first for the NHS.

They have already started working with one of the start-ups from the accelerator called Manual.to, which provides a platform that can be used to create and distribute manuals.

 

"Looking ahead, we are excited to build on our success of last year by expanding our network and establishing more partnerships."

Dr Zoe Penn, NHS Foundation Trust

“In a year, we’ve gone from going out and asking people to meet up with us to having a rather constant stream of collaboration proposals,” Dr Penn told BJ-HC.

“Looking ahead, we are excited to build on our success of last year by expanding our network and establishing more partnerships. Working alongside the trust, we will be continuing to focus on identifying innovative solutions to benefit our patients and staff, and further establishing ourselves as a leader in digital health innovation,” Chris Chaney concluded.

 

Focus on Innovation

In September, we take a deep dive into the cutting-edge development and disruption of healthcare innovation.