A blog by James Varley, Finance Director, CW+
CW+ is a founding partner of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator (DH.LA). Now in its sixth consecutive year, the accelerator programme has supported some of the biggest and most effective digital innovations now being used by the Trust and across the NHS. Here, James Varley from CW+ talks about the successful partnership and how it has helped accelerate innovation at the Trust.
It’s great to be celebrating five years of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme. For us, it was – and still is – a fantastic partnership, built on our shared vision to accelerate the adoption of digital health innovation across the NHS. Since the first cohort in 2016, we have worked with over 15 DH.LA companies, which equates to around 20% of the total DH.LA SMEs being adopted at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Together, we are implementing innovative initiatives that not only respond to the changing needs of patients and staff in a rapidly evolving digital landscape but are hugely successful in ensuring greater numbers of patients benefit from emerging new technologies faster.
Our innovation strategy has always been about identifying and delivering solutions that improve patient care, patient experience and the way we run our hospitals. In the early days, nearly a decade ago, we were cultivating tiny acorns. Our involvement in the DH.LA from its inception has undoubtedly supported us in realising our ambition to become a national leader in innovation by strengthening our ‘test and scale’ portfolio of innovative, scalable solutions. During the last five years, innovation has shifted from the periphery to being front and centre at the Trust, particularly following the launch of our CW Innovation programme, which marked another phase in our commitment to design, attract, embed and evaluate new ideas, systems and technologies that transform patient care, experience and operational efficiency.
Culture of innovation
Today, we stand out in London as being a leader in innovation with an openness to explore new ideas and try new things. This culture of innovation is nurtured from both the top down and the bottom up. As an example, we have connected innovation, research, and improvement internally to encourage staff to come forward with their ideas – big or small – to improve patient care and our day-to-day functioning. It’s been our aim to create an open and proactive environment where staff share ideas and are fully supported to bring them to fruition.
This approach to innovation is a deliberate process with our now flagship CW Innovation programme including dedicated innovation business managers, a robust learning and development programme, regular internal innovation events, targeted calls for ideas and clinical leadership opportunities, which has recently seen two of our Trust staff being awarded DigitalHealth.London Digital Pioneer Fellowships, further bolstering our flourishing partnership.
We are proud to be a delivery partner of the Accelerator programme, which has enabled numerous innovations to have been scaled across London and beyond. One example is our pioneering work with Dr Doctor (cohort one), which started small and is now integral to the day-to-day functioning at the Trust. It enables our patients to manage their health more effectively from home with access to their online health records, monitoring and reporting of symptoms and, critically, setting up and holding appointments via video consultations.
Another example is our partnership with Skin Analytics (cohort two) which involves the test and evaluation of their artificial intelligence (AI) technology, DERM (Deep Ensemble for the Recognition of Malignancy. DERM accurately identifies skin cancer – which is increasing faster than any other form of cancer – from dermoscopic images taken with a smartphone. The development of low-cost screening methods, such as AI-based services, has the potential to transform patient diagnosis pathways, enabling greater efficiencies throughout the NHS and beyond.
More recently, our pilot with FibriCheck (cohort five) enables stroke patients to test themselves at home via an app for atrial fibrillation (AF), a common heart condition that causes an irregular heart rhythm, leading to an increased risk of developing strokes. We’re excited about the results of what promises to be a game changer in the way we manage patient care in the Stroke service.
Through our joint working with the DH.LA and their companies, we have helped bring critical interventions to our patients to improve both their experience and their outcomes. It’s a partnership that’s mutually beneficial: the Accelerator programme supports some of the largest and best digital innovations across London and the NHS; and we welcome DH.LA companies to work with our clinical teams to develop, embed, trial and evaluate their innovations in our real-world test bed.
Now, more than ever, we need to embrace the power of digital and technology to find new ways to care for patients as efficiently as possible. We are delighted to be working closely with the DH.LA to explore potential solutions to some of the unprecedented challenges healthcare organisations face today.
Happy Birthday DigtalHealth.London Accelerator! We are proud of what has been achieved with you these past five years and are excited about what the next five, ten, fifteen hold.
Find out more information on the CW Innovation programme here.