Digital Mental Health: Health Tech News Interview

In a feature with Health Tech News, we explore some of the programmes supporting mental health digitisation. We discuss interoperability, the challenges faced, successes and what is coming up on the horizon.

Steve Wightman, MD of Healthcare, and Garry McCord, Chief Strategy Officer at Servelec sat down with Health Tech News to answer a few questions.

> Find out more about our approach to interoperability

What technology have you implemented in the mental healthcare space over the past 6 months?

Garry: Our ethos is all about improving people’s lives with technology that matters. In support of that, over the last six months our major focus has been on interoperability, because we know that joining up health and care leads to better outcomes for patients. Our cloud-based Conexes platform helps us to deliver that.

We’ve worked closely with NHS Digital, using Conexes to implement the National Record Locator (NRL) at Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust. The NRL helps mental health professionals to find out whether a person has a Mental Health Crisis Plan (MHCP) in the moment when it is needed.

Steve: The aim with the NRL is to reach a point where a mental health patient can present anywhere in the country – not necessarily in the region where they are receiving care – and their MHCP can still be accessed by those taking care of them.

Rather than potentially end up in a setting which is inappropriate or aggravates their condition – like police custody or A+E – professionals can refer to the MHCP for the best course of action to take and the patient receives the right treatment.

We are working with a third party that have a proven alternative method of care and process that is more appropriate to mental health patients and also reduces the cost of caring for those patients significantly. We are considering how we can digitise this further and integrate it into the NRL as we believe that capturing the right information at the right time, leads to higher quality and more appropriate care. We have a real opportunity here to transform the way patients with Crisis Plans are managed to the benefit of the patient and everyone involved in their care.

Garry: We also introduced Rio Mobilise at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with mobile solution provider, Totalmobile, in a deployment at the height of the first wave which took just six days. This empowered the trust to work remotely, giving clinicians more time to do what they do best and ensuring they had the right information to make informed decisions about their patient’s care.

We’ve created a new product called Flow, which we’ve implemented at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and South West London and St Georges Mental Health Trust. It’s a patient flow and tracking system which understands where people are in the process and allow them to reach the next step on time; we’ve recently added Covid-19 trackers, so that patients who have the virus are easily identifiable.

Another recently completed piece of work is with Totalmobile, the development of an app for the Criminal Justice, Liaison and Diversion Service. It has been implemented at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and ensures that when people with vulnerabilities are picked up by the police, they receive the right care and support’. The trust is now able to screen up to 170 more people in custody in one month which is a huge jump in capability.

Something else we’ve introduced is the Mood Diary app at Berkshire too. Mental health patients can use it to track how they feel and keep a record of those feelings. The system feeds that information back to clinicians and carers as they interact with the app, developing a line of logic which helps inform their treatment plan.

We’re very interested in patient-led functionality and we want to see more developments in that area. There is a huge demand for mental health services particularly for young people, and particularly in times of COVID19 and lockdown. Tech can undoubtedly help them to get the care and support they need, and also help them take control of their own treatment.

What have been the challenges that you’ve faced in implementing the above technologies?

Garry: We’ve obviously had Covid-19 related challenges. We’re working with organisations which are dealing with a pandemic and their workforce is under extreme pressure, and so one of the biggest challenges has been working with organisations which are themselves in a crisis.

Like everyone, we’ve had to adapt to engage with our customers, but together we’ve achieved so much by implementing these solutions which are making a real difference.

Steve: I’ve only realised in the past month or so as I’ve started to meet with colleagues or customers again on a one-to-one basis, how much that interaction has been missed and how much energy and innovation is generated through face to face discussions.

While it has been great to see more use of solutions to enable home working, it’s important to acknowledge the challenge that this has presented for people too, who miss that physical contact with people that a place of work gave them.

We’ve worked hard as a business to support our own team while they have worked tirelessly to roll out solutions and we have found new ways of working with our clients to ensure they still get what they need in a timely manner.

What are you most proud of as a company?

Steve: We’ve focused very much on providing vital stability and continuity for customers, keeping critical systems up and running for them. We have invested heavily in that and we have reallocated resources for things like hot fixes in order to turn things around quickly for them.

Garry: We learnt a lot about our team as well; the camaraderie we’ve had within our teams has been exceptional and we’ve had this notion of a ‘can do’ attitude. We’ve had to adapt to how we are working now rapidly; we were able to do that and also make sure we put our customers first, ensuring we support them. We were very proud we were able to react in this way despite how everything was turned upside down six months ago.

What’s coming up for Servelec over the next 12 months?

Garry: Interoperability will continue to be our core focus; every day we see a new opportunity when it comes to joining up health and care and customers are increasingly engaged on it. Part of that work will be extending the NRL and we’re looking at building apps ourselves that consume that.

We have started moving into AI and looking at automation; we are working with two leading AI vendors, as part of our partner programme, to look at increasing engagement with the patient, so they can plan and reschedule their appointments, and analyse the clinical data associated with the patient in order to manage them more effectively.

We expect our partner programme, underpinned by Conexes, to expand further still as we embrace working with other technology companies to make true interoperability a reality.

Further development of mobile solutions which support clinicians in their work and patients as they live their lives, is also in our sights as this kind of technology will play an increasingly important role in the midst of the continuing pandemic.

Steve: I think the number of applications of AI will increase significantly. We already have several enthusiasts in our customer base who can see many applications of the technology that will make a significant difference to peoples lives, which is exactly the area we want to be invested in as an organisaiton.

Want to find out more about our approach to interoperability
Get in touch