Ireland-UK, EIT Health Ireland-UK

Five ways frontline healthcare workers are improving patient care through innovation

26th January 2023

At the forefront of healthcare delivery, frontline healthcare workers are often the first point of contact for patients. As such, many continuously look for ways to improve the quality of care they provide.

From developing new digital health applications to redesigning hospital rooms, healthcare professionals often think outside the box to optimize the patient experience. In today’s blog, we highlight examples of innovation on the frontline.

1. Mobile health applications

Frontline healthcare workers are increasingly using mobile health apps to improve communication with patients, provide education, and monitor patients’ health status. Norma Caples, Advanced Nurse Practitioner Heart Failure, at University Hospital Waterford, developed the Fluid Heart Tracker App which allows heart failure patients to log their weight each day, in an easy to use mobile app. An idea that won the Spark Ignite Awards in 2020, has been adopted by the Irish Heart Foundation, and is now included in the national heart failure model of care.

2. Telehealth

In a post-pandemic world, frontline healthcare workers are using telehealth technology to remotely monitor patients, particularly those with chronic conditions, allowing for early detection and intervention to prevent complications. Aoife Collins, a senior physiotherapist working in South Lee Primary Care, Cork, developed the Rapid-Access Online Back Care (ABC) Programme and went on to win the Individual category HSE-HIHI Spark Ignite National Final 2021. This easy-to-use, GDPR-compliant software offers a patient portal and smartphone application, linked to a platform for the physiotherapist managing the programme.

3. Wearables

Regulated wearable products can be used to monitor patients’ vital signs and send that data to clinicians for analysis, allowing for early detection of health issues. ResWave, the first-of-its-kind wearable therapy developed by Elevre Medical, provides targeted breathlessness relief to the millions of people living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It delivers targeted neuromuscular stimulation to the chest wall to reduce breathlessness with no disruption to the user.

4. Sustainability

Hospitals are increasingly seeking out sustainable options when purchasing medical supplies and equipment, reducing the healthcare sector’s dependence on non-renewable resources, and reducing waste. Dr. Mary O’Riordan’s company HaPPE Earth has produced a medical grade compostable PPE apron that disappears without any toxic residue in approximately five weeks. The HaPPE apron is also a winner of the 2022 Health Innovation Hub Ireland awards.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

AI and ML technologies are being used to improve diagnostic accuracy, identify high-risk patients, and develop personalized treatment plans. Dr Aviva Cohen, CEO and Co-Founder of seamlessCARE, set up Neuro Hero Ltd when her husband survived a stroke that stole his speech, mobility and cognition. seamlessCARE’s first product, Empathic, helps non-verbal people to communicate their emotions. It records up to ten seconds of a non-verbal person’s vocalisation. Then it uses artificial intelligence to interpret how that person is feeling.

These are some examples of how frontline healthcare professionals are using innovation to improve patient care. The field is continuously evolving, with new ideas being developed regularly.

Meet us at the 19th National Health Summit on 8th February 2023 at Croke Park, Dublin. David Pollard, Education Lead at EIT Health Ireland-UK, will join a panel of experts as clinical entrepreneurs working on the frontline pitch their solutions, including above-mentioned Norma Caples (Fluid Tracker App), Miriam Savage (Elevre Medical), Aoife Collins (Rapid Access Online Back Care), Dr. Mary O’Riordan (HaPPE Earth), and Dr Aviva Cohen (seamlessCARE).

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