Our Purpose

To evolve a caring, safe and respectful digitally-enabled workplace and population, filled with Digital Practitioners and Citizens which is digitally inclusive and expanding.

Our Story

The Digital Health and Education Team strives to put patients at the heart of what we do. The department was established with one woman and a dream; to create a digitally enabled workplace for all staff at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals! The department has since grown to become a multi disciplinary team of six.

We have worked on projects within the community setting including a project to connect Fylde Coast care homes to essential IT infrastructure, hardware and software enabling them to link remotely with health services. Projects using this infrastructure include the multi award winning palliative care virtual ward round at Clifton Hospital in partnership with Trinity Hospice. Throughout the pandemic we worked on a number of key projects including virtual consultations and end of life communication for in-patients with loved ones.

Now under the leadership of the Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO), we have joined forces with the Health Informatics Digital Education department and are continuing to work towards creating a digitally confident and competent workforce. We now have responsibility for establishing the organisation’s clinical risk management process and accelerating digital innovation within the organisation.

With a large and complex programme of Health IT system implementations ahead, our team are well placed to support the clinical engagement, education and clinical systems risk management aspects of this work.

Our Work

Click on the links below to learn more about the work we do and the projects we've worked on:

Winner - Technology and Data in Nursing, Nursing Times Award 2019

Winner – Innovation Award, Informatics Skills Development Network 2019

Trinity Hospice had an increasing caseload with a finite team of specialist nurses. In collaboration with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Hamptons Nursing Home and Sandycroft Nursing Home, they introduced weekly virtual clinics.

Over a seven month period, 501 hours of clinical time was saved by reducing wasted travel time and over £12,000 of savings were made with an 88% increase in efficiency being achieved. Feedback from patients has been very positive of the new way of working and the project has enabled closer collaboration between partner organisations.

This innovative, digital system revolutionised patient care and improved effective use of time and resources, won two awards in 2019.

Care home connect (CHC) is a project that was funded as part of the wider Fylde Coast Vanguard Programme in 2016 and set out an ambitious aim to create a secure end to end network between all Fylde Coast care homes and NHS services.

Provision of this infrastructure would support seamless care pathways between health and care services enabling, in the medium term, care homes to gain access to NHS Mail. In the longer term it would also lay the foundations for homes to adopt broader digital innovations such as smart TVs to allow residents greater flexibility and freedom to communicate with family and friends in addition to health and care professionals.

To date our dedicated team have connected over 140 residential and nursing homes to the Care Home Connect infrastructure.

The use case for the infrastructure was reinforced during the Covid-19 2020 pandemic, when it proved invaluable, enabling care homes to reduce the risk of the infection spreading whilst still maintaining contact with health professionals as needed.

Reviewing mortality figures for care homes during the peak Covid-19 period of March – June 2020, Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre areas performed above average compared with the other areas in Lancashire. Based on Office of National Statistics’ estimates of care home population numbers and the total numbers of deaths, Wyre and Fylde had a 3% mortality rate and Blackpool 2%, compared with a high in Lancashire of 6% March – June 2020.

Over the same period the use of the care home connect system increased dramatically both in terms of number of calls, an increase of over 1900%, and more significantly overall talktime in the system with an increase of 1500%.

Introducing the Patient and Relative video call system.

In March 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisation took the decision to restrict visiting to the hospital to support infection prevention and control procedures. This was a huge change to our normal operations and had a significant and distressing impact upon patients, loved ones and staff. Therefore it was critical that the Digital Health team found a safe and secure digital solution to allow loved ones make contact with in-patients.

Due to the rapidly escalating situation of the pandemic we initially deployed smart phones enabled with WhatsApp onto the wards. Over time, we then improved the service by using tablets on trolleys and using Attend Anywhere video consultation software to connect patients and loved ones.

We offered training to ward staff, both socially distanced face to face and via e-learning and we produced useful quick reference guides and videos for busy ward staff to refer to when on the wards. We also created a video especially designed for the public to explain how to connect to a video conversation with their loved one.