How can we use technology in prevention?

Conversation starter: Meshell Heelbeck 

There are already plenty of ways we can use technology in prevention. You can get falls detectors, bed sensors, epilepsy sensors, and lots more. Data can help us work out when people need help, monitoring how quickly and slowly people are completing tasks to work out if they need any additional support, physio etc. 

The downside is that all of these things have costs attached. If you pass that cost to the person who needs it, many will be unable to afford it. 

There are other issues around getting tech working well for prevention. You need people on the ground to help adoption and show people how to use things properly. This needs investment too. 

You need a trusted person to guide and explain the technology to vulnerable people. A family member might not be the best person to do thisYou have to take into account that people’s cognitive processing may be different. Pacing is key. If you want to help people to adopt tech, you need to be patient. 

There are disadvantaged and vulnerable sections of society who don’t have access to smartphonesFor them, access to these things would be preventative technology, because you’re giving them the tools to help themselves. Ian gives the example of giving refugees an ipad, they can use it to learn language, work out how to rent a bike to get to the immigration office. Because it’s online, they can access this information in their own language. It’s empowering – it shouldn’t be a luxury. 

Conversations to Transform Health and Care in Scarborough

Thursday 11th July – Woodend Creative, Scarborough

Our second set of conversations to Transform Health and Care took place in Scarborough. From the moment I picked up the 9-seater charabanc (I had asked the car hire company for a big boot!) I knew this was going to be an interesting day.

For many of us long term residents of Leeds the A64 is a special road, full of memories of days on the North York Moors or the Yorkshire Riviera.  And as the familiar sights and sounds of Scarborough appeared I had to remind myself I was here to work – not stroll on the beach!

About 30 people from a range of backgrounds, and all over the north of England, came together to take part in an ‘Open Space’ afternoon to explore how digital might be used to transform health and care.

We held a total of seven conversations over the afternoon.  These are listed below and each is accompanied by a short write up and some graphics too.  Just click the links on the ones that interest you.  And please do join the conversation by using the comments to add your experiences and insights or to ask questions.

It was such a pleasure to see people smiling, connecting with new people  and generally enjoying the work!   Scarborough has a population of about 61 000, so it is not a big place, and yet people working in the same field in the same town met each other for the first time.  It was especially lovely to see the education team from York Hospitals Trust talking to social workers from Scarborough about setting up some joint training.  This just would not have happened had they not this chance to meet and talk about ‘what matter most’.

Here are some notes from the conversations we held in Scarborough and some of the images that Tom drew to go with them…

    1. Annis Coby, Re-Shape, How do we better connect our health service to facilitate referrals? 
    2. Vanessa Garrity, Yorkshire & the Humber NHS Leadership Academy‘How do we promote the positive aspects of coastal towns?’
    3. Tim Hunt, Medical Ed Tech specialist, York Teaching HospitalEngaging with digital functions within the NHS’ 
    4. David Jackson, Scarborough and Ryedale Carers ResourceHow to better include carers’ 
    5. Richard Askew, Askew Brook , ‘Appetite for Risk’
    6. Simon Town, Roots of Ygdrassil/ Rachel Benn, Leeds LibrariesHow do we better help communities and how do we motivate people to access digital health services?’ 
    7. Meshell HeelbeckHow can we use technology in prevention?’

We’d love to know what you’ve learned, reflected on, what you feel you want to continue talking about. If you’d like to write a post for the blog, share your notes or help us connect with other people who might like to join the conversations please do let us know through the comments here…

Our next date in September will be in Hull, location and date to be confirmed, let us know if you know of a great location and people we should be including in the event.

Conversations to Transform Health and Care

To see what we talked about when we visited York… click here

How do we better help communities?/How do we motivate people to access digital health services?

Conversation starters: Simon Town, Roots of Ygdrassil/ Rachel Benn, Leeds Libraries 

These two conversations had a big overlap in subject matter, so the groups joined together. 

There is an overwhelming need to use technology to better serve and connect our communities. But how do we get people to engage with digital health services in the first place? 

The group agreed that a bad experience with technology might put people off. How do you build that person back up and get their confidence back? How do we know that what we are downloading is safe and from a trusted source? How do we stop our devices being clogged up with apps we don’t need? Is there a way to determine which would be the most useful app for us, to personalise?  

 We referred back to the earlier conversation about triaging services (Annis Cordy’s conversation about referrals across services) and wondered if a similar flowchart model might work here too. 

Conversation turned to using the human element to help adoption. What about events in the local area that could create a point of contact? Digital hubs, somewhere for people to go and help them do things online? Could the younger generation get involved and show the older generation how to use technology better? A knowledge exchange. 

We were left unsure about how to bring the human element to people who are unable to leave the house to engage with hubs and other drop-ins. How can we best serve them and ensure they are happy and confident using digital solutions?  

Appetite for risk

Conversation starter: Richard Askew, Askew Brook 

Richard builds software for organisations. Despite coming up with simple, affordable solutions for problems within these organisations, he finds that they are often reluctant to take a risk with a smaller company, or on a slightly different way of doing things.

As an example, why you would invest £200k on a single solution, when you could diversify and try a few options to see what would work best? Organisations want to buy off the shelf from the same few large companies. It’s not always cost effective, nor is it innovativeAt worst, the solution may not be fit for purpose.  

The group discussed how a hospital might see a software solution working well enough elsewhere, and just buy it – it’s not worth the risk of it not working at all.  

The group discussed the advantages of spending your money with local businessesboth saving money and supporting the local economy. 

There is a real need for investment in the local digital sector, yet large public authorities are still spending their digital budget elsewhere.  

Do we know who is making these decisions? We decided we didn’t, and that it would be great to have one of those decision makers at an event like this to demystify the process. Possibly they are working too hard to have the vision to change things and take a risk. Perhaps there just isn’t the time to take a step back. 

Risk is scary for other reasons too, it opens you up to being taken advantage of by external companies. Trust is a huge factor when it comes to choosing who to work with. 

The conversation moved to telling truth to power, valuing your workforce and listening properly. 

People who can see where changes should be made are not usually the people who make the decisions. Large organisations have hierarchies, and perceived hierarchies, and these things are very real barriers.  The people at the bottom have no way of communicating with the people at the top, and sometimes vice versa. How do the people at the top know what’s going on at a grassroots level? 

Formal consultations never work because the outcome is often preconceived – a tick box exercise. Or people are too jaded to take part. Crowdsourced solutions are better than consultations, because you’re more likely to get buy-in. That leads to truth, and truth leads to innovation. 

As an employee, yotake part in a consultation or staff survey and you never hear back, so you don’t engage next time. Lack of communication from top down. Communication is one of the biggest issues, not having feedback or updates. There are fears around anonymity – how honest you can you really be? 

 

 

How to better include carers?

Conversation starter: David Jackson, Scarborough and Ryedale Carers Resource 

David works for an organisation that supports carers, a group that is often overlooked when it comes to conversations about health and care. 

We need to engage with those who will be providing services in the future. 

At a top level, we need local authorities to communicate better with smaller organisations. Is there a way of connecting, and pooling our resources to give better care? Maybe creating a digital profile that we could share across services? 

The conversation centred around finding the time to give a more human-focused service. Learning context, not just ticking boxes. Knowing the carer, and patient, and asking the right questions is important. Ultimately you have to sit down and talk to people to work out what’s wrong.  

To treat the cause and not the symptom, we need to take the time. But do we have the time, when everyone is so stretched?  

The group agreed we need to teach that saving time by taking the time in the first place. We need to change priorities about what really matters. If you’re giving a bed bath you are not just bathing somebody, you’re checking the skin, you’re asking about their home life. There are lots of ways we can gather more information, but it takes care and attention to the job.  

 

Engaging with digital functions within the NHS

Conversation starter: Tim Hunt, Medical Ed Tech specialist, York Teaching Hospital 

Tim works in a digital role within the NHS. He wanted to discuss ways to create better connections between digital functions within the NHS and external organisations. 

The group discussed how digital functions within the NHS can become isolated, and the frustration they sometimes experience of having good ideas and no way to implement them. Better connections and networks would be a step in the right direction. 

Currently, conferences and networks in the sector tend to cater to specialists rather than functions like digital, so there are limited opportunities to connect. What if there was a way to find your tribe – people working in similar roles? 

Digital is a tiny bit of lots of areas in the NHS. Although digital is high up on the sector’s agenda, the people actually doing the job within services are fairly low down the priority list, often with little influence. The digital aspect of a project is still seen as something to be worried about later on, rather than a fundamental part of planning and strategy. This is because the people making the decisions and having those big boardroom conversations are not necessarily the ones with the knowledge. To embed digital properly will require a cultural shift. 

This impacts on the way new technologies are decided upon and implemented. A lack of grassroots understanding from decision makers can lead to a tendency to ‘play it safe’, stifling innovation. 

We asked – do external providers think ‘payday’ when it comes to the NHS? Does this attitude exist internally too, when we are given a chunk of money to spend? Are we always thinking smart, or letting cultural norms and processes do our thinking for us? 

We discussed the disconnect between the people who have ideas about digital solutions, and those working too hard contemplate solutions. Also, those who do not have access at all. 

Hierarchies within organisations can prevent great ideas from being discovered or put into action. Voices need to be heard, ideally in a safe space. You empower people by listening to them – if you act on people’s suggestions then they will engage with you 

Digital professionals working in the healthcare space need to find ways to connect with each other. Perhaps this will lead to an improved agency and visibility, and more clout when it comes to being heard, both inside and outside the organisation.

How do we promote the positive aspects of coastal towns?

Conversation starter: Vanessa Garrity, Yorkshire & the Humber NHS Leadership Academy 

Vanessa was keen to find a way to shift the focus away from the negative stories we tell ourselves about the place we live. Coming back to Scarborough for today’s event, she could see the beauty of her hometown with fresh eyes. How can we work together to play to our strengths and build a more positive culture around our community? 

The group discussed how, in a professional setting, there is a tendency to focus on complaints and problems. There is no time for – or no culture of? – celebrating success. 

We need to find better ways to celebrate the good care that’s been received rather than over-focusing on the problems. It’s not only bad for employees, it’s a barrier to patient trustOnce you are programmed to expect problems, you begin to look for them.  

Conversation turned to the benefits of coastal living, and how they are often taken for granted. All agreed that being by the sea has a positive impact on mental healthIf you’ve had a difficult day there’s nothing better than the wide open space of the coastline. It’s a fantastic resource,  but how well do we use it?  

Vanessa talked about the concept of ‘blue space’ (see link below for more info)Internationally, there have been studies and discussion about the benefits of living by water, but it doesn’t seem to be as much of a hot topic in the UK. How can we engage with it? 

Emma talked about her family being very close to moving to Scarborough, but negative stories about deprivation put them off. In theory, it should be a really attractive place to move to. In the digital age, it should matter less that it’s some distance from a large city centre. You can still be connected, and have all the benefits of living by the sea and surrounding countryside. 

The group discussed the way local and national media feed into negative images and make people feel bad about where they live.  

We also talked about the need for solutions to come from the ground up. If decision makers aren’t part of the community they serve, they will not have the depth of understanding needed to provide the answers. 

Scarborough head office is currently in York, which is a very different community. How can that set-up work? They are addressing it by sending more senior people to Scarborough, but it is a problem. 

We agreed that “solutions are found in the place where problems occur. 

More information on the positive impact of ‘blue space’: https://bluehealth2020.eu/news/bluehealth-review/ 

How do we better connect our health services to facilitate referrals?

Conversation starter: Annis Cordy, Re:Shape 

Annis was keen to find a better way to connect all available health services, so that patients and professionals have a clearer idea of what’s out there, and which path they should take for the best treatment or support. 

The group discussed not knowing what’s available – not being able to look for what you don’t know exists. Even if you know about a service, or have heard of them, you might not make the connection, or have a clear enough idea about their service offering to think of trying them. You might not know how to get a referral – who to speak to, what the process is. 

There are services out there that provide similar functions, and potentially duplicate information and support. It would be helpful to connect those dots. Where are the gaps? Where are the overlaps? If there are organisations out there doing similar things, what can they learn from each other? 

We decided a good solution would be a database that helps people navigate all health services.  A digital flow-chart that allows users to view options and select the best one for their needs. Everything in one place, personalised for every user.

 

 

 

Transformation without fear

The first ‘Conversations to Transform Health and Care’ event was held at the Priory Street Centre, York, on 26th June 2019. 

The aim? To bring together different ideas and experiences from across the health and care sector. To share perspectives present, past and future. To think about how we can improve the sector, and how we support ideas to come to fruition. 

The ‘open space’ format allows attendees to dictate the flow by electing to lead their own conversations, then voting with their feet.  

Attendees proposed eight conversations (follow the links to read about them in more detail): 

  • How do you motivate someone to engage with digital health solutions? 
  • What digital tools and resources have been developed/are in development to support the delivery of the care services of the future? 
  • How can the health and care services extract value from the Chain Network? 
  • Data 
  • Innovative ways to encourage children to eat healthily to combat future mental health issues and obesity 

Then, after a short break: 

  • How do we stay better connected? 
  • How do service-users influence the system when the system is not listening? 
  • What do we do first? 

The conversations varied in theme, but core issues kept returning throughout the afternoon. 

There was concern around how we integrate technology into our lives in a way that improves connection, instead of making us more isolated. Digital brings endless possibilities, yet many patients and service users are at risk of slipping through the cracks. Attendees were in agreement that we must maintain the human element. Digital should form part of the solution rather than the whole piece. 

There were also recurring discussions around the transparency and accessibility of information in the health and care sectors. The systems aren’t working for us yet. Some attendees felt that technology promised to free us, but sometimes it feels like the opposite is true. When tech is implemented poorly or not fit for purpose it can hold us captive, increasing divisions rather than bringing us together. 

Fear of change was discussed on nearly every table. Fear can stop us improving, stop us trying new things, the fear of failure or the risk of being sued. How can we become more efficient if we are scared to make ourselves vulnerable? 

The next ‘Conversations to Transform Health and Care’ event is at Woodend Creative, Scarborough on 11 July. Book your free ticket here.  

Conversations to Transform Health and Care in York

 

Wednesday 26th May – Priory Street Centre, York

After months of planning and preparation we finally got to host our first Thrive Together Event in York.

A group people from a range of backgrounds, and all over the north of England, came together to take part in an ‘Open Space’ afternoon to explore how technology might be used to transform health and care.

We held a total of 8 conversations over the afternoon.  These are listed below and each is accompanied by a short write up and some graphics too.  Just click the links on the ones that interest you.  And please do join the conversation by using the comments to add your experiences and insights or to ask questions.

It was such a pleasure to see people smiling, connecting with new people  and generally enjoying the work!

Here are the conversations…

    1. David Smith, Chain Network:  How Can the health and care services extract value from the Chain Network?
    2. Angela Thompson, Skills for Care:  What digital tools and resources have been developed/are in development to support the delivery of the care services of the future?
    3. Ian McCardle, Leeds Libraries 100% Digital: How do you motivate someone to engage with digital health solutions?
    4. David Smith, Teesside Hospice: Data
    5. Jessie Jacobs, Northern Inclusion Consortium:  How do we stay better connected?
    6. Tom Bell How do service users influence the system when the system isn’t listening? 
    7. Sara Agar Brennan, Consultant: Innovative ways to encourage children to eat healthily to combat future mental health issues and obesity
    8. Linsay Cunningham, Humber, Coast and Vale  Health and Care Partnership: What do we do first?

We’d love to know what you’ve learned, reflected on, what you feel you want to continue talking about. If you’d like to write a post for the blog, share your notes or help us connect with other people who might like to join the conversations please do let us know through the comments here…