I am regularly asked about Health Call. What it is, why it was created and why certain secondary care organisations are not included in the partnership.

Health Call is not about which Foundation Trusts are involved or why we haven’t included mental health or primary care organisations. It’s about the system. For which we can add rigour to the development, testing and evaluation of digital solutions across Health and Social Care from Primary Care to Tertiary Centres – a digital innovation test bed if you will. The call to collaborate was cast far and wide but only the Trusts with the most to lose, through lack of collaboration stepped forward.

Why was Health Call created?

  • A ‘not invented here’ culture had developed making share and spread difficult;
  •  There is not enough resource to invest in the need to support people to adapt to a digitally enabled care system in each organisation;
  •  We have no consistent evaluation process to underpin the evidence and the evaluators were separating functionality and content;
  • We have a focus on a plethora of care initiatives not on priority sustainable outcomes,
  • Digital ‘things’ are coming from all angles and we were not engaging Governance or IT support in the design and implementation phase
  • We are consuming resources inefficiently, carrying out similar tasks in organisational silos;
  • Lack of regional organisation means we are not achieving best value through procurement.

One organisational structure

Health Call is consolidating the expertise under one organisational structure to work with clinicians from across the North East and North Cumbria to identify the systematic problems that our huge workforce face on a daily basis with manual or analogue processes.

We are solving them digitally through the knowledge and skills of the people that truly understand the potential of our regional IT portfolio, the combined Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Clinical Chief Information Officers (CCIO). This has encouraged the regional trusts to have the sensible conversations about standardised evaluation, platform functionality and reduction of overlap in our systems to enable us to achieve best value for money through our regional IT.

Adopting a single system means we can rapidly share content developed in one organisation across our region. But this could be any system as long as the provider CIOs agree that it’s the right system to fit the regional portfolio to reduce overlap. The Health Call service is the golden thread to sharing lessons from the development, deployment and evaluation

The system works

We have spread a digital gestational diabetes service across four trusts. The service was developed once and shared four times within weeks. We’ve discussed using the SMS gateway at one of our partner organisations for all regional texts that could save thousands of pounds across the region. We have talked to universities about real-time evaluation and diagnostics at patient and application level and to researchers about support trials. These are just some of the many wonderful activities that may not have taken place if we had not created the vehicle to do so.

What’s next for Health Call?

Well, we need to work on our membership; this is not an exclusive club! It’s for the region by the region and we are working hard with the NENC AHSN to find a model that means the region has that emotional investment into Health Call from a small GP practice to huge tertiary centres. Next stop Mental Health!