Limerick based Yellow Schedule Provides Technology to Enable Safe Visiting for Cork’s SIVUH
New tech solution for scheduling hospital visiting hours goes “live” at Cork hospital
Connecting patients and loved ones safely during COVID-19
Thursday 8th October, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in connected health and digital solutions at the forefront of Irish healthcare. The pandemic has provided hospi-tals with a variety of challenges including the scheduling of safe visiting appointments for family members to patients in our hospitals across the country. As the winter approaches and we as a country have been placed in lockdown Level 3, a solution to safely visit patients in hospital is essential.
The Covid-19 global pandemic has brought into sharp focus the urgent requirement for the management of visitors through healthcare facilities while protecting the psychological well-being of patients and long-term care senior residents which was addressed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Preventing and managing COVID-19 across long-term care services’ July 2020.
The South Infirmary Victoria Hospital (SIVUH) in Cork part of the South/South West Hospi-tal Group was faced like many other healthcare institutions across the country with a chal-lenge, to re-introduce visiting in a way that was safe for patients, their visitors and the hos-pital staff. The added and continuing challenge during a pandemic was to retain a record of the visit for contact tracing purposes.
Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) was approached to help find a solution. HIHI is a joint initiative of the Department of Health and Department of Business Enterprise and Employment. HIHI offers companies like YellowSchedule the innovator of this new tech solution, the opportunity for pilot studies and also provides the health service with access to innovative products, services and devices.
Since it was launched in September 2016, HIHI has managed 552 company engagements, 227 of these have resulted in follow-up support activities and 71 of these have developed into active projects within the Irish healthcare system. HIHI also recently triaged 200 innovative healthcare solutions through its Covid-19 Innovation Portal and continues to promote innovation through its HIHI Innovation Portal.
Working together during the pandemic, HIHI met with YellowSchedule, who had a com-mercially available appointment system. The hub’s unique innovation pathway where HIHI supports a solution’s development from idea to bedside was set into action here. It was clear from the beginning that YellowSchedule had the required competencies in their online scheduling and appointment booking software. HIHI worked with Yellow Schedule to pro-vide a solution for the SIVUH and with additional software design and modifications to the product, this challenge was successfully addressed. Targeted design solutions were tailored to meet the SIVUH requirements which included bottlenecks related to the flow of visitors; the resource burden of a manual system; and most importantly during the pandemic con-sistent, reliable and timely contact tracing.
Full commitment from YellowSchedule in responding to design requirements and fine tun-ing developments during the testing phase meant that the solution was launched quickly and effectively. Live testing and extensive training secured high confidence in the system from staff.
YellowSchedule’s digital solution has enabled SIVUH facilities to re-introduce patient visits in a safe and controlled manner while adhering to the latest public health guidelines. Addi-tionally, it has reduced the administration burden on staff associated with scheduling visi-tors over the phone and conducting screening in-person as well as the reduction of queue-ing at busy entrance points where social distancing may not be possible. Most importantly it has led to, an accurate single source of data to enable contact tracing for infection control teams.
Speaking at “go live” day of this unique visitor scheduling tool, Martina Skelly, CEO of Yel-low Schedule said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been a very difficult and worrying period for most people so it has been hugely rewarding to work with SIVUH and Health Innovation Hub Ireland to facilitate the reconnection of loved ones through the launch of this visitor scheduling and contact tracing platform. The commitment of SIVUH staff to provide quality of care for their patients has been evident from the start. They took every effort to ensure a system that would enable longer-stay patients to benefit from visits from loved ones in a safe and managed way while also building a single accurate source for effective contact tracing purposes. We’re very grateful to Health Innovation Hub Ireland for facilitating this project and supporting it with the resources and expertise required to ensure that it could be launched quickly and effectively”.
Dr. Tanya Mulcahy, National Manager, Health Innovation Hub Ireland welcomed the collaborative approach: “HIHI’s role is to connect innovative healthcare solutions with an unmet healthcare need. In this case SIVUH required a solution to enable scheduling and tracking to ensure patients could receive visitors in a safe and managed manner. Yellow Schedule, an Irish company, had recently applied to the HIHI Healthcare Innovation Call and was able to deliver this solution. Our role was to broker the engagement, identifying what a solution should deliver and ensuring that SIVUH requirements were met”.
Project Lead/ADON of SIVUH Ms. Breeda Kelly welcomed the new system: “At SIVUH patients and visitors are our priority. Yellow Schedule alongside the expertise provided by HIHI, found a digital solution to a work flow problem with the healthcare system. The response from visitors has been rewarding. When surveyed the visitors highly rated the system as either “Very Good” or “Excellent”. This platform now provides a secure way for family members and friends to book visits with their loved ones at our hospital, to be pre-screened for Covid-19 on the morning of the visit and to receive a bar code to enable fast track entry to the hospital. This reduces the demands on resources at the hospital, reduces queueing in reception areas and ultimately ensures patients and visitors get to maximise their precious time together in a safe environment”.
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YellowSchedule is an award winning Irish Appointment Scheduling Platform. With over 12m appointments made through the platform to date and international clients such as Novartis, the University of Berkeley and the Feinberg School of Medicine at NorthWestern Yellow Schedule has a wealth of knowledge and experience in delivering scheduling solutions to solve our clients’ workflow requirements.
About South Infirmary-Victoria Hospital (SIVUH)
We at the South Infirmary-Victoria Hospital are committed to providing the highest quality service to all our patients in a friendly, safe and caring environment. We endeavour to pro-vide an effective, efficient service in a timely manner with equal access for all our patients. We aim to provide individual patient centred care to each patient and their families and promote patient participation in their care. We encourage good interpersonal relationships. We promote staff and service development through education, motivation and encourage-ment. We are committed to providing an effective learning environment for future health service staff.
We are a 192 bed Voluntary Teaching Hospital affiliated to University College Cork and ca-tering for approximately 38,500 discharges and 72,500 outpatients each year. We are part of the South/South West Hospital Group.
The Hospital is the Regional Centre for E.N.T. and Dermatology Services. The Hospital also plays a very prominent role in Endocrinology and Rheumatology services in the region. Ser-vices are continually developing and expanding at the Hospital.
About Health Innovation Hub Ireland
Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) works across the health sector with Irish businesses to creatively solve problems and improve patient care. Harnessing this innovation, through development of new healthcare technologies, products, and services, will help to create Irish jobs and exports. Operationally HIHI is a partnership of clinical and academic centres from across the country. HIHI works directly with three hospital groups (South/South West, Dublin Midlands and Saolta in the West/North West), the HIHI network can also access all acute and community hospitals, pharmacies, primary care centres and healthcare centres. Academic partners are UCC and CIT, TCD and NUI Galway respectively.
The HIHI national team includes HSE assigned staff from pharmacy to clinical research nurses and biomedical engineers. Team members with both academic and corporate backgrounds further strengthen this mix. The Government group tasked with overseeing HIHI – National Oversight Group, chaired by Dave Shanahan includes the Department of Health, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Enterprise Ireland, e health Ireland, HSE, IDA, the Health Research Board and Science Foundation Ireland.
The Covid-19 global pandemic has brought into sharp focus the urgent require-ment for the management of visitors through healthcare facilities while protecting the psychological well-being of patients and long term care senior residents.
The WHO policy briefing Preventing and managing COVID-19 across long-term care ser-vices noted that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected residents in long-term care facili-ties. Key stated objectives to the policy document include;
1. Preventing and managing Covid-19 in long term facilities.
2. Prioritizing the psychological well-being of people receiving and providing long-term care services & providing support for family and voluntary caregivers.
To achieve these aims the briefing recommends the following key actions;
• Establishing clear visiting policies that provide balance between infection prevention and control measures and the need for people to maintain their psychological well-being.
• Enabling residents to have visitors while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 entering long-term care facilities.
• Implementing surveillance upon entrance to a facility for visitors, including screen-ing for signs and symptoms of Covid-19.