Connecting Business – Growing Opportunities

Innovative Organisation of the Year, Causeway Awards 2020

A partnership between NHS NSS, HSE and led by the mPower project team has won the Innovation Organisation of the Year award at the Causeway: Ireland Scotland Business Exchange hosted Virtual Awards ceremony held on the evening of 1 October 2020. 

Over the last six months, HSE have successfully delivered a safe and simple video conferencing tool called Attend Anywhere nationally across the Republic of Ireland.  The tool, initially used in Scotland enables health professionals to continue to see patients, virtually for a video consultation during the current Covid 19 pandemic. This allows people to see their clinician or health care professional in a safe and timely manner. 

mPower, an EU INTERREG VA Programme funded project within the HSE has been at the forefront of supporting the HSE national roll out of Attend Anywhere. mPower uses digital interventions to enable elderly people in remote areas to live safely and independently in their own homes by introducing them to various health and wellbeing technologies. The mPower project works across the Finn Valley in Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Louth and South Monaghan. The EU’s INTERREG VA Programme is managed on a cross-border basis by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

The mPower teams based in HSE CHO 1 and HSE CHO 8 quickly became core members of the HSE national virtual health team to help to deliver Attend Anywhere. Since November 2019 mPower had been implementing small trials of the product in various health settings and in very innovative ways, specifically launching the first virtual pulmonary rehab clinic in Drogheda, among other initiatives. Because of this familiarity, the mPower team led the training on how to use the platform. In total they trained over 3600 clinicians and health care professionals in twice daily virtual training sessions running from May to August. 

The service is now successfully embedded right across the health service and ranges from the Community Physios to the Child and Adult Mental Health Services, and from Audiology service using the platform for virtual hearing aid fittings to Dietetics clini:cs. To date over 30,000 Attend Anywhere consults have occurred within the HSE.

The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland worked to support HSE to increase the accessibility and use of the secure service Attend Anywhere across Ireland. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the team in Scotland were planning a phased roll out of the product (called NHS Near Me), however Covid-19 meant the team had to significantly accelerate and deliver faster solutions to help alleviate the pressures on the health and social care services. They delivered the massively upscaled roll out within weeks instead of the planned year or so, and this demonstrated what could be achieved in a short space of time with a professional and dedicated team. 

The Scottish team supported the Irish government and HSE to set up their own platform and programme, working in collaboration to share solutions at a time when a rapid response was needed in both Scotland and Ireland. Because the network was already there and the collaboration existed, the Scottish TEC team willingly provided the HSE access to all their training materials and key learnings. Consequently, the HSE with the support of mPower were able to customise their training materials and implementation plan to deliver training nationally on Attend Anywhere quickly and efficiently. 

Julie Bellew, Deputy IT Delivery Director for the HSE said “This rapid growth from only 2 active waiting rooms within Attend Anywhere in April 2020 to over 30,000 consults in August shows the dedication and professionalism at play here. A key enabler for us was the openness and support from the Scottish Technology Enabled Care (TEC) team who supported us throughout this process whenever we needed it.  I am so very proud of the work the mPower and national virtual team have done. Their flexibility and adaptability has had a tremendous impact across the Country during this time of pandemic.’’ 

Hazel Archer, Digital Access Programme Lead, Scottish Access Collaborative, Scottish Government said “TEC and NHS Near Me were actively participating in the mPower project and sharing our experiences from 3 years of Attend Anywhere roll-out in Scotland. We’ve enjoyed collaborating over many years with Ireland. It’s important we are open with our learning as new external insight from trusted partners always improves our service. In March as the scale of COVID began to emerge it was easy to support HSE’s efforts through our existing mPower relationship. Establishing a new service from scratch can take years, there was no hesitation in making introductions for HSE and providing our training materials and access to support teams. We’re very proud to have played our small part in their success.”

Brigid Whoriskey, a Director of Causeway who nominated the team said:

“The mPower team are well deserved winners. They are passionate about finding innovative technology solutions to redesign services. They collaborate nationally and internationally to deliver new, effective and cost-effective health and care solutions. These solutions have never been more relevant than they are today”.

“The NHS Near video consultation programme has proved to be a key component in the health care response to the Coronavirus crisis. This programme was accelerated, delivering essential services to citizens in Scotland at a time of a national health crisis, but crucially  to collaborate with Ireland in the roll out of their solution, building on a strong collaboration in digital healthcare bringing benefits to both partners and nations”.

The platform has been positively received right across the HSE by health professionals and service users alike.

Moya Ferguson, a Senior Physiotherapist from St. Joseph's Hospital, Stranorlar said “Attend Anywhere has enabled us to actively engage with our clients face to face via video call. We have found it to be a great adjunct to physiotherapy. We have been able to check clients range of movement, their gait, provide home exercise etc."

One service user from Donegal said “The video call was very good. It gave me reassurance that I was doing the exercises correctly and helped me feel more confident. I wouldn’t have been able to see the physio otherwise, because the department is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.”

The Audiology team in Sligo and Donegal found that 95% of service users surveyed would use it again for appointments.

Wendy Rutherford, mPower Implementation Lead for the Finn Valley area CH 01 said "It was a very exciting, challenging and rewarding experience supporting the HSE national roll out of Attend Anywhere. The gains for service providers and service users have been considerable as we are enabling effective communication and care provision through the medium of eHealth whilst under pandemic restrictions.”

This award was kindly sponsored by Mabbett.

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