Richard Fitzgerald

Richard Fitzgerald

Academic Clinical Fellow in Special Care Dentistry

Barts Health NHS/Queen Mary University London

2020 Bio: As an Academic Clinical Fellow (ACF) in Special Care Dentistry, Richard splits his time between providing clinical dental care for patients with additional needs, and conducting research about addressing oral health inequalities experienced by vulnerable populations.

His specific research interests include how digital innovations can be used to overcome barriers to healthcare for people living with a learning disability.

Read Richard’s blog where he discusses whether the sector is supporting people living with a learning disability to adapt to digital life following the Covid-19 digital acceleration.

Digital Pioneer Fellowship project summary: My Health Guide is an app to help adults with a learning disability manage their healthcare and share information with carers, relatives and healthcare staff. It allows users to record information in word, photo, audio, and video forms. This information can be accessed readily and also shared remotely and securely with healthcare professionals.

Richard has been leading a quality-improvement project piloting and evaluating the roll-out of My Health Guide at the Royal London Hospital; the first in a secondary care environment. He has recruited and trained patients and staff from three outpatient departments: special care dentistry, gastroenterology, and neurology.

Richard hopes to make the project sustainable beyond the current pilot and contribute to digitising and personalising care for people with learning disability. Another goal is linking the project with local community and general practitioners to share learning and potential future benefits.

Estimated number of patients / staff impacted by the project: There are roughly 1,300 inpatient and 4,800 outpatient encounters each year with a patient with a learning disability.

Goal(s) for the programme: Richard aims to develop the skills needed to maximise the benefits of his current project and to lead the uptake of future digital innovations in special care dentistry.