In 2012 County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust (CDDFT) developed and implemented a digital service to allow patients on the anticoagulant warfarin to self-test at home, away from the clinic. Today there are over 500 patients enrolled on the service in the region. Jeannie Hardy, the Project Lead at CDDFT shares her top tips for implementing a digital clinical pathway.
Highlight the benefits and why you are making changes
Highlight the benefits for the patients, clinical team and the Trust – it is important to show key stakeholders how your new digital service will meet and hopefully exceed their needs. Communicate what you are setting out to achieve and why and keep reiterating these points.
Build your dream team
A multi-disciplinary team is essential to consider all perspectives. We had representatives from the anticoagulation clinical team, IT, our business manager, clinical governance and a programme lead. We were lucky, because our service provider wanted to be included in our weekly meeting and this really helped us build a bespoke service, right for our Trust.
Issues occur when clinical staff attempt to implement new services without any support. Clinicians often do not have the time or resources to make certain changes so they need a support team to listen, understand and address their concerns. To implement a digital clinical pathway a cross-organisational and multi-disciplinary team is needed and communication between the technical and clinical roles is vital.
Training, Training, Training
Implementing a new clinical digital service requires building confidence amongst patients and clinicians. Choose a provider who will give you regular access to their expert trainer, to allow your clinical staff to feel knowledgeable and comfortable with the new software. We hold training for new staff, and continue to provide training for existing patients.
As some nurses were apprehensive towards changing the service, it was important for the support infrastructure to be clearly communicated. During the first week the service was running, a technical role from Inhealthcare was present in the clinic to support the nurses and instil them with confidence in their role.
Listen to feedback
Encourage regular feedback from patients, clinicians and other users to continually improve the service, patients’ health and engagement. We hold regular patient and clinician focus groups and carry out patient questionnaires to understand their concerns and benefits. Make sure your service provider encourages your feedback so they can continue to make improvements to the service.
Keep everything simple
Digital health does not have to be complicated, but should follow existing clinical pathways. Keep communication and training simple, and devices easy to follow, so all new digital clinical services can be understood and embraced.