On Wednesday 19th January, the Southern Trust’s Research & Development Department at Craigavon Area Hospital hosted a HSC Innovations workshop entitled ‘Innovation to Improve Patient Care’ for trust staff. The aim of the workshop was to introduce the value of technological innovation in health and social care, including intellectual property and patents.
Dr Peter Sharpe, Trust Director of Research & Development welcomed the thirteen attendees and outlined the importance of research, development and innovation within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.
Dr David Brownlee from HSC Innovations presented an overview on intellectual property (IP) within a healthcare setting. This included the areas of what is IP, the value of IP that arises from research and clinical practice, and the policy relating to it. There was also an audio-visual clip demonstrating examples of healthcare innovations from the clinical and research base, in addition to a summary of the support available to researchers and clinicians from HSC Innovations.
Professor Alistair Fee from the European Business School spoke on ‘Innovation is Everywhere in HSC’ and showed a wide array of exciting and new medical device ideas that are emerging from laboratories, universities and most importantly from the minds of clinicians and health sector employees.
The workshop demonstrated to the attendees the importance of observing everything in the world of health. This includes not only operating theatres and medical equipment but also processes of all sorts. An example used was the incredible world of WL Gore which manufactures Gore-Tex jackets and material for waterproof shoes. What we discovered is that Gore-Tex material is used in over 2,000 items including many endoprostheses, septal occluders and a wide array of body part structures.
Everything, from catheters to cardiology can be improved, made better and enhanced. Sometimes this also makes it simpler and cheaper, which is always an added benefit. Careful thought in design, use and training can improve the condition of equipment and processes.
Delegates were asked to consider extensively about their area of clinical specialty. As a follow-up exercise, delegates were asked to produce a list of 20 ways of improving something or new ideas – and a number of ideas to address unmet needs in healthcare have now been received.
The workshop demonstrated that innovation is vital, can be visionary and is very satisfying. Professor Fee said that “it is something every member of staff can contribute to and does not require a PhD in rocket science. It is simple, straightforward and all that is necessary is for a few individuals to think about something in a new way”.
Dr Sharpe said he hoped the presentations from Dr David Brownlee and Professor Alistair Fee would encourage staff to submit their innovative ideas which could be further developed for the benefit of patients, clients, and staff and overall improve the quality of service provided throughout the trust.
Already as a result of the workshop there has been an increased number of enquires to HSC Innovations and to the trust Research & Development Office, which is very encouraging.