eConsent; Networks, Partnership and Commercialisation

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Case Study Summary
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Overview summary:
Stephen Lake, a consultant at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, had the idea to create an eConsent software application. There are many factors that could cause problems when clinicians are writing up risk factors for patients, for example paper-based consent forms are open to increasing errors - handwriting may be unreadable, doctors could miss out crucial parts of patient data and patients may not understand abbreviations.
This led to the creation of the eConsent form, which MidTECH supported with its development and commercialisation.
Challenge identified and actions taken :
A consent form fully-informs patients and their agreement to proceed with a surgical intervention. The problem was that these paper-based forms had become complex and open to errors.

Stephen’s vision was of a structured digital version, supporting communication with individual patients. His initial approach was through his Trust’s IT project team, with whom he built a database in Microsoft Access. He and his colleagues used this to select and enter all the necessary fields clearly. The final form was printed out and signed by the patient.

After successful use within the Trust, the idea was ready for further development and commercialisation. This was a challenge that Stephen faced, he was having difficulty finding the right partner.

Action:
MidTECH was approached:
  • Their experienced consultants were able to call on their contacts in order to understand which firms had the expertise, experience and interest in a product like eConsent that would be able to take it to the next stage.
  • They also advised both parties on right agreements, from confidentiality agreements through to licence negotiations and contract drafting- striking the best shape for partnership.
  • Their wide network of clinical and commercial contacts meant that the project was uniquely placed to find the right collaborator, eHealth Innovation.
Impacts / outcomes:
One of the outcomes was that with several years of success within the Trust behind the project (which became a Health Service Journal Award finalist in 2008); it was clear that the idea was ripe for further development and commercialisation.

In less than a year, the contracts were signed. Matthew Smith, Business Strategy Manager for Wellbeing Software Group, believed this process was crucial to successfully taking eConsent to market.

eHealth Innovations had the know-how to take a Microsoft Access database and turn it into something slicker and more intuitive to use. The package now runs off a hospital server and displays in an attractive user interface optimised for mobile devices, such as tablets. The process is fully digital too – the paper form is being finally consigned to history.

MidTECH are continuing to consult with e-Health Innovations and the Worcestershire team, supporting eConsent in its broader adoption. Via its links with the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, MidTECH has encouraged regional adoption through workshops and launch events.

eConsent is a software application that originated within Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, resulting in a licensed commercial product which is now available on the market.

Such has been the success of the partnership that was facilitated by MidTECH that the adoption of eConsent doesn't stop there. "Only months after the official launch, we were invited to tender for introduction in thirty-eight hospitals in the USA," says Chris. "As of now, we've made it through to the shortlist”.

“We wouldn't have even heard about eConsent without MidTECH – and now we're working to market it the world over. Their networks have helped to make this happen."

Therefore, MidTECH has helped this project take international adoption.
Supporting quote for the innovation from key stakeholders:
“I didn’t know then that this idea might be considered worthy of a prize, but it did seem an extremely useful time-saving, and quality–improving, concept.”

"What emerged from the MidTECH introduction was a really productive partnership. Both Stephen and the Trust were really keen to get the product out there – and so were we.”

“We wouldn't have even heard about eConsent without MidTECH – and now we're working to market it the world over. Their networks have helped to make this happen."
Which local or national clinical or policy priorities does this innovation address:
Issues around the proper consenting of patients.
Plans for the future:
Chris Burdett is the Product Manager at e-Health Innovations and responsible for eConsent: "We're developing new functionality for eConsent all the time. Stephen's original idea has been totally reworked using our expertise into eConsent 2.0. The product emails a link of the form to a patient, so they can review it at their leisure – and they simply sign on the device the next time they're in the hospital. It's a huge move forward for the patient experience."
Tips for adoption:
If this is a system you would like to adopt in your organisation then please contact e-Health Innovations - http://e-healthinnovations.com/
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