Improving the Well-Being of Greater Manchester Citizens With Innovative Technology
Innovative digital solutions that have been launched in Greater Manchester are being recognised at a national level. The Greater Manchester Smokefree Pregnancy platform has been shortlisted for the HSJ Awards, and The Early Years Integrated Solution has just won a Digital Leaders 100 Award.
The Smokefree Pregnancy Platform and the Early Years app were developed in partnership with Objectivity, and are examples of how disruptive technology can be leveraged in the service of citizen health.
The Smokefree Pregnancy Platform
Since 2018, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care (GMHSC) Partnership has been helping pregnant individuals to stop smoking with their Smokefree Pregnancy programme. As part of the initiative, specialist midwives work with their patients throughout their pregnancy to support their efforts to quit. This is a long-term engagement that generates vast amounts of data, which used to be processed manually. GMHSC was looking for a way to reduce the administrative burden on their staff and as a result, grant them more time to provide care. A new way of data collection and processing would also allow GMHC to track their progress more accurately and gain a better picture of the outcomes of their services.
GMHSC partnered with Health Innovation Manchester (HInM) and Objectivity to develop a new digital platform that would support the midwives working on the programme.
The development of the Smokefree Pregnancy platform began at the height of the pandemic, which resulted in the entire cooperation happening in a virtual space. This fact didn’t hinder the work, as the virtual meetings allowed all participants to save time that would otherwise be required to travel and meet in-person. The GMHSC team had the chance to work with detailed mock-ups of the new application and experience its planned look and feel. User Acceptance Testing, which took place after each phase of the project, accelerated the customer feedback cycle.
The new platform was developed in tight collaboration with the users, i.e., the midwives, and was equipped with features and functionalities that address their specific needs. The features include patient profiles, a calendar for visit scheduling, health status indicators, real-time reporting, email and text notifications as well as offline capability, allowing the app to be used regardless of the available connection.
The new digital solution replaced the traditional paper-based processes and introduced standardisation and consistency in the programme’s data collection. The platform relieves the midwives of the admin burden, allowing them to dedicate more time to their patients. With the new features in place, it became easier to track and display the outcomes of the programme. NHS figures show that the smoking in pregnancy rates in Greater Manchester have dropped to the lowest on record. This announcement was followed with the HSJ Award nomination in the Connecting Service and Information category.
The Early Years App
As part of their Digital Strategy, The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) places citizens at the heart of the city-region’s digital transformation efforts. One of their goals is giving children in Greater Manchester the best possible start in life. The GMCA decided they could improve the services they provide to the children and their families by digitising their paper-based school readiness assessments.
A solution that the GMCA had in mind was a new system for data collection and management. It would require the digitisation of the forms that were being used for the screening of the socio-emotional development of infants, toddlers, and kindergarteners. The previous standard child assessment process was conducted manually by parents, caregivers, and health practitioners, and involved time-consuming paperwork.
The GMCA partnered with Objectivity in order to create an innovative application that would help them achieve their goals and simplify the child development assessment process for all parties involved.
Low-code technology was chosen for the project due to the efficiency it guarantees with its rapid delivery and effortless maintenance. The latter allowed the GMCA to further develop their application independently, at the hands of their in-house ‘citizen developers’. These are (often non-IT) professionals who have the business knowledge necessary to create and maintain functional, low-code applications. Additionally, the infrastructure created by the Objectivity team helps to keep the solution’s cost under control while ensuring its reliable performance.
The Early Years app allowed the GMCA to digitally transform the laborious child-development assessment process. The application enables the relevant data to be captured easily and shared among health and Early Years professionals. The same personnel now has access to important information from other public sector organisations. This means they can react quickly and efficiently bring help exactly when and where it’s needed.
Moreover, thanks to the Early Years’ Carer portal, parents and caregivers can fill out the assessment forms online, and the results are automatically and immediately delivered to health workers. The digitisation of the process improved its convenience and increased the availability of data within relevant health institutions.
The Early Years app empowers carers to take more informed decisions about their families. It also helps to increase the efficiency of the Early Years services and accelerates the identification of required support. The Early Years solution is transforming the way Early Years services are delivered in Greater Manchester, and has just won a DL100 award in the Digital Public Service Innovation of the Year category.
Innovating for the Greater Good
Both the GMCA’s Early Years app and the GMHSC’s Smokefree Pregnancy platform were developed to help Greater Manchester citizens feel more in charge of their and their families’ well-being. At the same time, they reduce the administrative burden on healthcare professionals and digitally transform their day-to-day processes.