Do we design with patients in mind?

Ijudai Jasada, Horizon Fellow and Innovation Project Manager at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Trust, shares his thoughts on the importance of designing services with patients and how he is doing so as part of a project to build a specialty virtual clinic.

The health sector has witnessed tremendous expansion and transformation as a result of adoption of innovative methods to improve health services over the past decades. This transformation is directly connected to regulatory changes, complemented by emerging technologies and the need to deliver health services at an efficient yet affordable cost. Remote monitoring technologies and virtual services offer great potential to improve services and provide huge savings for the NHS in UK.

I currently work as innovation project manager with the cardiology services at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust. My areas of focus are remote monitoring and digital health inequalities.

The pandemic made adoption of digital health technologies faster, transforming the health services globally in a manner that would have taken many years to accomplish. Remote monitoring and virtual health services have proven to be an effective means of delivering health care to patients, additionally, it reduces pressure on clinicians, and environmental burden on our Trust. Digital healthcare companies and health services providers are increasingly rolling out projects in a manner that outstrips patients’ adoption rates.

Technology enabled care

While we are increasingly rolling out technology, how well are we involving patients to design our projects in a manner that addresses some of the fundamental challenges they have?

One of the projects I currently lead on is to set up and support to operationalise a specialty virtual clinic that will cater for patients that are multimorbid, specifically cardiovascular diseases and Type II diabetes at our Trust. Multimorbid Patients will be recruited from the existing record at the Trust and at the point of triage. These patients will be on boarded into the digital care pathway, where teleconferencing services such as Microsoft Teams will be used for scheduling clinical appointments and meeting with specialists on clinic days. A cardiologist and an endocrinologist will attend to these patients virtually on those clinic days. The Care Information Exchange Platform will be used for digital remote monitoring, and patient education. The project will be rolled out at the West Middlesex University Hospital.

I hope that through this project, emotional stress burden that patients experience coming into to the hospital to meet with different clinicians on different clinic days, is reduced. This will give the patients better experiences, reduction in transit times by the virtue of virtual clinics, and a dedicated pathway to monitor of health parameters far from the confines of the hospital. Finding ways to improve the management and care of patients with multiple long term conditions is one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS today.

Design thinking in health services

Adoption and usage of technology in an organisation, hinges on the following pillars: User desirability, business sustainability, applicability and accessibility of technology. The last three could be decided on by any organisation internally but user desirability remains a key external factor that must be considered when designing solutions in the age of remote monitoring and virtual care services. 

With that understanding, this project takes a patient-centred design approach to deliver care, curated to ensure that the patient journey is made easier while addressing some of the fundamental challenges faced by this cohort of patients. 

The health services will continuously lean towards technology innovation to improve care delivery and services. While these offer tremendous support to transform our health services, technology-enabled care projects should build on patient pain points to access health services, this will help curate projects that meets the end users’ needs, facilitating adoption and usage amongst the target patients.

Look out for my next write up on “Dilemma of patients in a technology inclined world”.

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