NMAHPS and ehealth: So, how far have we come?

By Dr Lesley Holdsworth. 

Reproduced with kind permission of Scottish Government eHealth Blog. Visit this site by clicking on the image below

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As I get ready to step down as chair of the national NMAHP ehealth network, I’ve been thinking about the past two plus years and asking myself ……”so just how far have we come?’

It was back in June 2013 at an event hosted by the Chief Nursing Officer for Nurse and AHP Directors in Edinburgh that the network was formally launched. The CNO at that time was clear that NMAHPs needed to be more involved in and directly influencing the ehealth agenda. She also recognised that to do this, NMAHPs needed a supportive mechanism and effective leadership to achieve these aims. At the same time, and to provide the required leadership, Eunice Muir who had been Nurse Director at NHS 24 up till that point was appointed as Clinical eHealth Lead with the Scottish Government. Eunice’s role is to work closely with colleagues in the ehealth department and NMAHP community across Scotland. Eunice has provided leadership to the NMAHP ehealth community ever since and last year was joined in this quest by Mark Fleming as Clinical Advisor.

For my sins (?), I was elected chair of the newly formed ehealth network- ably supported by Derek Barron, Associate Nurse Director with NHS Ayrshire and Arran I might say. I was both honoured and delighted. I am an AHP, a physiotherapist by background and although I’ve held various national roles for the last 15 years, most recently with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, I’ve always been rather passionate about information and what we do with it as well as just doing things better to improve the care and services we provide. The overall ehealth agenda, aims and current strategy marries these passions perfectly.

So just what has the network achieved? Back in 2013, at the very first meeting, we warmly welcomed the 18 people who either turned up in person or virtually via VC. As of this week, there are now 146 registered members with designated nursing, midwifery and AHP leads nominated by Nurse and AHP Directors in every board across Scotland. For the first time, we’re seeing our NMAHP leads regularly meeting with their medical and technical ehealth lead colleagues and some joined up thinking and actions really progressing locally. NMAHP1Our meetings take place every quarter and are well attended even by those from the farthest flung corners of our country who make good use of VC facilities. We conduct annual surveys which are used to inform our action plans, hold annual workshops where innovative and really great examples of practice are shared and generally try to make connections to progress our ehealth agenda. For the first time this year we involved industry in the workshop and their input was both welcomed and appreciated and especially by one lady in particular!

Another major initiative that’s contributed to the expansion of the network has been the ehealth leadership programme being run by NES and supported by SG ehealth. This programme is into its fifth cohort and seen over 70 NMAHPs using their increased ehealth knowledge and skills in their local systems. Some have even taken up new designated ehealth related roles with on-going support provided through the network and a community of practice

So how has this translated into better services and care? There are many examples to share and even more than are currently available to view on the ehealth website. We’re currently collating many more of these in a range of formats which will soon be appearing on the website so watch this space. Although I don’t have the time and space here to share some of these stories, I will share with you one such example. An occupational therapist in Grampian has revolutionised the way home visits are now carried out for amputees. NMAHP2By using ipads connecting the patients’ home, social work and the patient from their hospital bed simultaneously, all adaptations and discharge planning is streamlined with minimal disruption to all and reducing hospital length of stay by three days. The success of this work has led to this approach now being rolled out into other areas where home visits are a big part of the discharge process across Grampian. The challenge now lies in how the impact of this work is spread so that others across NHSScotland can benefit from this pioneering work. A challenge we’ve given the network!

So, as I make my exit from the chairs seat, I’m confident that seeds have been more than sown and that the NMAHP network with continued leadership will go from strength to strength. It’s not without its challenges however with quite a few barriers to overcome – connectivity and access to technology being some of the biggies the network has to contend with. I’m certainly not complacent about the scale of the task in front of us but the network is maturing and starting to deliver some impressive stuff. In terms of where we are today therefore, I think we’ve come a quite a way since 2013 but by far the shining stars in my eyes are the people who make up the network. After all, it’s always about people. NMAHP3There are NMAHPs all over Scotland stepping up and speaking out, who know that we need to get better at using data and technology and that it also means changing the way we do things. They really do get it and want to be part of what really needs to be a #movement. So a big thanks to all our shining NMAHP ehealth stars from me – your commitment and enthusiasm is motivating and has made my job quite a breeze!

Although I’m stepping down as chair, I’m not going far as I’ve recently joined Eunice and Mark at the Scottish Government as ehealth Clinical Lead for NMAHPs with specific responsibility for AHPs and so my involvement goes on I’m quite delighted to say. So enough of looking back it’s the future that interests me. What I’m really looking forward to over the next three years is to continue working with the network and seeing just how far we can actually go!

If you have any NMAHP ehealth stories or questions about the work of the network, do get in touch with any of us @lesleyahpd @eemehealth @markfleming1

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