Digital responses to Covid-19

In a Digital Health webinar, Orion Health experts and customers explained how its Outbreak Management Solution (OMS)in particular the Virtual Care elements, and shared care records technology, are helping healthcare systems through the coronavirus outbreak. This blog acts as a guide to the webinar, with seven key takeaways, and lots of links to find out more.

In May 2020, Orion Health organised a webinar with Digital Health to discuss how it has responded to the coronavirus outbreak and how its UK customers have been able to support the frontline by using shared care records built on its technology. A guide to the highlights, in seven key takeaways:  

One: The Outbreak Management Solution: ready to “deploy in a matter of weeks”: 

Ben Wilson, Product Specialist Lead, told the webinar that as the coronavirus had spread, it had impacted countries and healthcare systems at very different stages of digital maturity.  

In response, Orion Health created an Outbreak Management Solution that is made up of a suite of modules that can be used individually or together to identify, manage and engage patients. It also focused on rapid deployment. “OMS is cloud based, and ready to deploy in a matter of weeks.” 

Two: Shared care records underpin the UK response: 

Ben Wilson went on to tell the webinar that parts of the UK have invested in shared care record systems and that, where they exist, they have played a valuable role in supporting the Covid-19 response.  

In turn, Orion Health has been supporting its UK shared care record customers by ensuring any additional front-line workers who needed access to a shared care record were provided it. Groups requiring access have included emergency services and community pharmacy, with systems being rapidly adapted to the re-configuration of services, including Nightingale hospitals. Adaptations have covered optimising shared care records to make them quicker and easier to use; adding new information including a patient’s infection status, care plans and flags to identify vulnerable patients; and adding functionality for Covid-19 care.

Three: The Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record proves its worth:

Good examples of the way in which exiting functionality can be adapted for Covid-19 care were given from the Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record. The information summary in its Diabetes Care Pathway includes a ‘next of kin’ field that is being used by hospital clinicians to call families who cannot visit to give them updates.

The callers are also using the Progress Notes component from the pathway to make sure they have the most up to date information to pass on from ward rounds. In another context, Progress Notes is being used to capture information from virtual consultations within the patient record. 

Four: Connecting Care expands and evolves:

Another programme that has demonstrated the value of shared care records during the outbreak is Connecting Care, which operates across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Jocelyn Palmer, Connecting Care programme manager for NHS South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit, told the webinar it had focused on four areas.  

These were: rolling out more licences; exploring a Connecting Care-lite for care homes; adding new functionality including a ‘shielding’ flag; and embedding a mortality indicator for clinicians. Now, the programme is preparing for a new world of integrated and digital first care. “We are evolving, but we always have been.”

Five: The Outbreak Management Solution: creating capacity by supporting remote care:

Bruce Horne, product specialist lead, picked up on the importance of integrated and digital first services. Although these were being developed before Covid-19 hit, they have become essential to creating additional capacity for severely ill patients.  

The Orion Health Outbreak Management Solution was built to recognise this, Horne said. It enables healthcare systems to identify Covid-19 patients, to manage individuals remotely in their own homes or in the community through symptom questionnaires and negative test results reporting. Orion Health is talking to NHS organisations interested in the Outbreak Management Solution.  

Six: Virtual Care monitoring to support early discharge in Scotland:

Pauline Mclean, clinical consultant, followed this by telling the webinar about work that is already under consideration in Scotland to create capacity for acutely ill patients. One health board is exploring how Orion Health’s Virtual Care product supports the early discharge and monitoring of Covid-19 patients at home.

Patients would be given remote monitoring devices prior to leaving hospital and shown how to make video calls. They would go to provide information on their status from home, which would be monitored by a team of nurses who would set up support calls where necessary. The team could manage up to 30 patients per day this way, freeing up that number of acute beds. Similar programmes are being supported by Orion Health customers in Canada and Paris.

Seven: Working in collaboration with customers: 

Bruce Horne concluded the webinar by underlining that Orion Health had taken a practical approach to its response to Covid-19. “Our biggest takeaway is the importance of being as collaborative as possible,” he said. “We always try to work that way, but this has re-emphasised the benefit of working with our customers to make sure there is a use case behind everything we do, from putting together the Outbreak Management Solution to evolving a shared care record to free up capacity, empower citizens, and create structured data for analysis.”  

Pauline McLean echoed this. “Our customers are the frontend and we are the backend,” she said. “The work we have been doing, the work we are doing, the work we will do; we all do it together.”  

Watch the webinar in full, including a Q&A that touches on shared care record adoption in the UK and the prospects for health tech when the Covid-19 crisis abates.