The ITU Transfer Project – A contribution from North West London Critical Care Network
Written by Dr Hai Lin Leung, Dr Emily Taylor and Dr Eleanor Pett, on behalf of North West London Critical Care Network
With COVID-19 admissions on the rise in mid-March, critical care beds were running out across a number of hospitals – starting with one of our London sites; Northwick Park. In response, we worked with the North-West London Critical Care Network and Patchwork Health to set up the ITU (Intensive Treatment Unit) Transfer Project, and expand across multiple Trusts in North West London in just a few days.
Northwick Park needed to rapidly transfer patients out to available ITU beds elsewhere, but we did not have the resources to do so. So the North West London Critical Care Network quickly drafted in volunteer clinicians and began coordinating transfers across North West London hospitals at scale. The scheduling and coordinating of these clinicians, however, was rudimentary – the onboarding process was tedious, there was a huge administrative burden on us Transfer Coordinators, and we had no way of capturing timesheets; making paying clinicians impossible.
During this challenging time, Patchwork Health implemented at pace – within just 4 days from our first point of contact with them! They took the time to really understand our problem and were incredibly flexible, patient and responsive to our changing requirements; constantly iterating their solution to fit our needs.
All of our clinicians were provided with bespoke comms and activated within 24 hours of joining the digital bank via the app.
Their offer of a digital staff bank – made up of an app used by our clinicians to connect directly with available transfer shifts, and a hub used by us coordinators to oversee the process end to end – achieved a number of benefits for all of us.
All of our users found the solution so intuitive and easy to use. It also relieved a mass of administrative burden for everyone – owing to a mass of tasks being made digital and automated, clinicians digitally tracking their own shifts and timesheets, and real-time digital broadcasting of vacant shifts to workers. Our processes are now standardised and volunteer workers have all of the information they need before doing a shift.
Fundamentally, we were able to onboard higher numbers of clinicians in a shorter amount of time, and we now have a digital bank of ITU transfer clinicians that we can grow and stand down as the COVID-19 pressures wax and wane.
Watch the short 1 minute clip from Dr Hai Lin Leung here: https://vimeo.com/427685173
It is important to support grassroots projects and the use of tech to scale up. Working from the bottom up allows you to design a solution that genuinely tackles the problem that you’re facing, and provides faster results in an agile and often more responsive way. Partnering with the right tech company that shares your values and goals can transform your processes and provide opportunities to scale at pace without compromising the quality of your service delivery.