City expertise helping to improve quality of care for patients in care homes

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership project between City and Evalucom Consulting is designing a new digital system for care homes.

An innovative new digital system to manage the quality of care for patients in care homes and domiciliary care, is in the process of being developed with the help of expertise from City, University of London.

The system, which is called CarePulse, is designed to monitor quality indicators, such as healthcare-acquired infections, to make sure the standard of care provided to patients is high and sustainable. This will allow the NHS to, for example, reduce the risk of infection and therefore cut down unnecessary admissions to hospital.

Led by Professor Neil Maiden and Evalucom CEO Michael McHugh, the two-year project, now in its 21st month, has already seen significant developments and measures of success achieved.

The team has created the new online web-based system and rolled it out to more than 300 care homes and 80 domiciliary care services, replacing a manual spreadsheet-based version that existed previously for care homes.

So far, CarePulse has resulted in a 15 per cent increase in the number of homes providing complete care data by the required deadline. During trial stages, it received positive feedback from care home managers who stated in was a lot easier to use and a definite step forward.

The system also includes an automated email system, an internal communication log and an intranet-like internal database. By comparison the new bespoke system is simple to use and allows data to be recorded more quickly, accurately and reliably. It also crosschecks and validates important information as it is recorded and allows each care home to view its performance with data visualisations.

CarePulse was designed as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project (KTP) between researchers in the Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice at the Cass Business School and Evalucom Consulting, a consultancy that improves health and social care quality, market sustainability and value for money. Enabling organisations across the UK to deliver innovations in their products and processes, KTPs link organisations with academic institutions such as City, allowing them to benefit from the substantial knowledge, relevant academic expertise and technology that exists within a University. KTP projects are part-funded by Innovate UK and administrated by the supporting University.

As part of the partnership, City alumnus Max Schubmann (Human-Centred Systems, 2014) joined the Evalucom team as an Interaction Designer and Developer to work on the development of CarePulse.

The project will now focus on making further software developments to the system to reduce the amount of manual intervention needed to operate the system and improve communications between care homes. This includes the development of interactive and rich data visualisations to help care homes track their performance over time.

Max describes how the skills and expertise gained whilst studying for his Master’s degree at City have helped him design a system tailored to the needs of its users.

“We began the project by identifying and engaging with the main stakeholders and using their views and information about their needs to inform the design of the system. We did this by visiting care homes and conducting interviews with care home managers. These interviews gave us a clear view on the existing issues with the old manual system and wishes for a new future system,” Max said.

“My degree in Human-Centred Systems gave me the tools and knowledge necessary to work closely with stakeholders to work out a design that is engineered especially for its future users.”

Professor Maiden said: “The project has drawn on the considerable expertise of our team to design and roll out new forms of software to residential care homes. These homes make relatively little use of software, and our team has developed considerable expertise in designing software for such environments. The project has also made some use of the team’s expertise in user-centred design and creative co-design of new concepts.”

Michael McHugh said: “We are excited to be implementing a market-leading solution to improve care quality for NHS service users and quality assurance processes for NHS commissioners.”

For more information on KTPs at City, University of London, please contact Clare Avery, Business Development Manager on [email protected]