Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has launched what it dubs ‘a ground-breaking digital platform set to revolutionise the way patient care is delivered to children and young people’.
The hybrid health platform, AlderHey@nywhere, is being championed as ‘a hospital of the future’, where patient and clinical care are delivered ‘in a hybrid world, both physical and virtual’, to create a ‘hospital without walls’. The ‘interactive and immersive’ digital platform provides a hybrid point of access and patient care for families, children, young people, and clinicians, to ‘manage, treat, educate, and coordinate delivery’ of their healthcare. ‘Most importantly’, the Trust says, ‘it will focus on preventative healthcare’, and make patient care more accessible and personalised.
The technology was developed by Alder Hey Innovation at its dedicated ‘innovation centre’ at the Liverpool hospital – reportedly the UK’s largest dedicated, purpose-built, hospital-led such centre – in collaboration with Microsoft and Mindwave, as ‘to help address the finite capacity of hospital and community resources, including both physical space and workforce’. Other key drivers included rising accident and emergency admissions, long outpatient appointment waiting times, and increasing stay lengths.
Alder Hey Innovation believes that by leveraging ‘innovative health tech’, digital platforms, data, and AI, it can ‘revolutionise’ healthcare delivery to children and young people, and wants to ‘break down the traditional barriers’ for patients accessing care and personal health information, and receiving therapies and seeking education.
Alder Hey Innovation MD, Claire Liddy, said: “At the moment, healthcare is most often about treating people that are ill. We want to shift to a more preventative model of individualised, tailored care that empowers children and young people to take ownership of their healthcare and treatment. There are so many different technologies out there now – including wearable technology and devices, such as smartwatches, that enable you to monitor your health at home. We needed a hybrid platform to bring it all together in one place so that families, children, and young people could access it, alongside their clinicians at the hospital.”
AlderHey@nywhere is a co-development with Microsoft and technology SME, Mindwave. Claire Liddy added: “The Innovation Centre at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital is a really special place – with a dedicated team all focused on bringing new technology into healthcare for children and young people’s benefit. We work with a wide range of private sector partners, including tech giants, SMEs, entrepreneurs, and universities, to co-invent new technologies and innovations. We have a different mindset and culture of innovation, and can move fast and think big – allowing our innovation path to accelerate much faster than the traditional pathways. We are able to fuse healthcare and tech innovation with industry.”
AlderHey@nywhere was designed to be visually appealing, engaging, immersive, and ‘intuitive’ for young patients and their families to use, but was simultaneously engineered to allow clinicians to monitor, assess, and optimise data and clinical workflow in the management and delivery of patient care.
Mindwave – which has previously worked with Alder Hey to develop other ‘tech’ platforms, including AlderPlay, and mental health platform, CYP As One – has been the lead developer on the portal’s visual interface, and the interconnectivity and operability of data. Founder and CEO, Kumar Jacob, said: “Our role has been to ensure the portal is visually appealing and immersive, so that the experience young people, children, and their families have is engaging and enjoyable, and that the system is simple to use and easy to understand. Simultaneously, we want the complicated data and AI to flow seamlessly to ensure that the data flow is interoperable and sent across multiple devices, making the experience seamless, functional, and easy for clinicians to use.”
AlderHey@nywhere is said to enable the interoperability of multiple systems using FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), remote devices, and resources for management of acute and chronic conditions. It also collates ‘a new unique dataset’ for longer-term, AI-augmented decision-making for preventative intervention, personalised care, and long-term disease prevention.
Umang Patel, Chief Clinical Information officer at Microsoft, and also a paediatrician working in the NHS at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, said: “It’s been a real privilege to work with Alder Hey to develop the AlderHey@nywhere platform. Microsoft always loves projects that get its staff excited. Hopefully we have been able to bring some new insights, skills, and innovations, that will help Alder Hey not only solve problems locally, but scale beyond the Liverpool region. What they have done at Alder Hey is great for many reasons, but two stand out: first, the Alder Hey team has managed to keep it simple; ask 100 doctors what they want in an ideal system, and they will tell you a million important things. The team has managed to scale that back, kept it usable, and brought the most important things to the front. Second is the momentum they have generated; it’s trailblazing innovation at its best.”