Innovation to benefit patients

2016-04-12 10:55
Dr Wafeeqah Mohamed, a community service doctor, explains how she created the Guide Pill Box at the celebration of new innovations at Groote Schuur Hospital.

Dr Wafeeqah Mohamed, a community service doctor, explains how she created the Guide Pill Box at the celebration of new innovations at Groote Schuur Hospital. (Gary van Dyk)

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There’s a new sense of service delivery at Groote Schuur Hospital with some exciting new innovations in action at the facility.

These innovations were celebrated at a special event last Tuesday (5 April) to highlight the impact that these projects have made to hospital employees and patients.
The Innovation Programme was launched in October 2014 and was offered by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (a specialised unit at UCT’s Graduate School of Business), the hospital’s facilities and management board as well as the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences.
Over R1m was invested in the programme, the dedicated Innovation Hub and the employee projects and tools.

“We’re excited to see what the employees come up with next, as the agency within each of them has now been unlocked to pioneer again as social innovators. They are now empowered to address health challenges they face within the hospital or on behalf of their patients,” said Dr Francois Bonnici, Director at the Bertha Centre.
Ten projects were launched and over the programme period, two projects in particular, the Time Machine and the Guide Pill Box, were both able to refine their innovations after the envisioned outcomes did not materialise.

There was a buzz of excitement as the project leaders introduced and explained their innovating ideas making a difference at the hospital.
The Time Machine project dealt with employee shifts that are often based on historical arrangements, and top down attempts to change these were often met with resistance.
Now there is a tool which allows employees to design their own work arrangements by letting them see the impact their shifts have on the throughput (time patients come in to them leaving) rate of patients.
The tool not only allowed health care workers to positively impact patient throughput, it also demonstrated that the use of an outdated patient booking system contributed to processing delays.
This has now been addressed and results being monitored.

Hester Burger explained how it was being used in the radiology department.
“The important thing is that we allowed the design process to catalyse new thought processes,” she said.
Dr Wafeeqah Mohamed, a community service doctor, created the Guide Pill Box.

For many doctors a common complaint is that patients do not understand the medication they are on, nor when or how to take it.
Mohamed explained that it acts as a medication storage device, which also supports the education of patients about their chronic medication.
Her challenge was that she is a “one man team” and so had to find the time to move the project along.
Due to her tenacity and passion, the project has now received support from the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences and students participating in the Health Innovation and Design course. The students will be assisting Mohamed in piloting the Guide Pill Box prototype at Groot Schuur Hospital.

Another interesting innovation is the adolescent-centered service design that was done by Dr Bianca Davidson of the Renal Unit.
Adolescents with kidney failure, on dialysis or awaiting transplant have to make substantial changes to their lives, at a time when they are already going through a transition period. This project aims to redesign the way care is provided to adolescents in an outpatient setting by engaging patients to create the service that they need and want.
There is also a personal development initiative for staff with staff well-being, motivation and engagement a major problem.
This project aims to tackle this by developing a coaching programme delivered through videos that will work at scale across the hospital. The ultimate aim is to support staff to reach their full potential so that they can deliver high quality care for patients.

The Resource Hub is another important innovation.
Judy Wallace from the dermatology department explained that when patients are diagnosed with a chronic condition, they are often unware of all the resources available to them.
“A walk-in resource centre that offers support through online resources, books, and trained health navigators is the solution,” she said.
“The centre enables patients and others to access information and support with regard to their health needs while in the environment of the hospital.”

A partnership between doctors and IT robotic specialists makes science-fiction become a reality with the innovation created for surgeons.
This project by doctors Jonathan King and Kamlin Edambaram with IT input from Pieter Holtzhausen and Francois Malan enables hands-free interaction electronic radiological images during surgery via use of the Leap Motion Controller.
It will enhance operative planning and patient counselling by providing an effective visualisation of the operation with intuitive interaction, given the 3D nature of the device.
“These innovations have challenged the employees to think of ways to not only improve the services they offer to our patients, but to also improve our working environment,” said Dr Bhavna Patel, CEO of Groote Schuur Hospital.
“All the projects have shown that employees are more engaged and keen to embrace such change, much more than we anticipated at the start of the project.”

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