Fiona McDonald works as Associate Clinical Director at Health Call and presented at Digital Health Rewired.

Health Call is a unique organisation. We were set up and are owned by the NHS. In the North East and North Cumbria we are used to working together collaboratively and have strong networks and a history of working together.

Our local trusts are all trying to solve the same problems using digital solutions. By working together and sharing innovation, means that Health Call can deliver digital tools effectively, at low cost and then share.

We provide products using different communication methods including text message, app, email or automated calls.

Throughout the pandemic we have developed new solutions to respond to the needs of frontline staff. This has included remote screening for annual asthma and COPD checks for primary care and remote hypertension monitoring. The My Well-being Space app is helping cancer patients at the end of their treatment with remote follow up and digital communications.

We developed Oximetry @ Home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and are exploring how we can re-purpose and use this in new ways to continue improving outcomes for patients.

A recurring theme throughout the event is how organisations are dealing with the digital divide. How do we develop remote solutions which don’t leave anyone behind?

When our INR Self-testing Service was initially developed – being digitally inclusive was at the forefront. An automated telephony solution was put in place so all that a patient needed was access to a landline. When we develop new services, it’s always in collaboration with clinical teams so there is always a non-digital alternative developed. It’s about providing a digital solution for people who want it, without leaving those behind who don’t.

So, for instance, with the Oximetry @ Home solution – for those who didn’t want to use the digital option, instead the healthcare teams can be contacted by phone and the patient provides the readings. For those patients that are not responding to the digital communication for whichever pathway, we generally build in non-responder alerts so clinical teams are aware patients are not submitting responses and can follow up with them in an alternative or more traditional way.

We ended on what’s next for Health Call. We will continue to work with clinicians and develop solutions that work for them. We respond to their needs and will continue to develop and share our products within our region and beyond.