Optimising chronic disease management

A number of health projects were among the 20 winners of this year’s Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Awards.

The Awards, coordinated by the Reform and Delivery Office in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, were preceded by a showcase conference in Dublin Castle conference centre, where the successful projects were presented to an audience of some 300 public servants.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D. presents the award for the Beaumont Project to Ms. Mary Fitzsimons, Principal Physicist at the hospital
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D. presents the award for the Beaumont Project to Ms. Mary Fitzsimons, Principal Physicist at the hospital

Speaking at the Awards ceremony, the Taoiseach said: “These Awards recognise and reward projects and initiatives that enhance efficiency, quality and effectiveness of public services. They showcase what is best in the Public Service. All the recipients here today have demonstrated a clear capacity for innovation, a desire to make improvements, to provide excellent service”.

The Public Service Excellence Awards are held every two years to recognise innovation and best practice in public service administration and service delivery, and to share ideas across Public Service organisations and sectors. The successful projects (in no particular order) were as follows:

A project from Beaumont Hospital, Dublin to optimise chronic disease management Mary Fitzsimons, Principal Physicist said the award winning Beaumont  project was based on aligning people, processes and technology to optimise chronic disease management.

  • The People -patients with chronic disease, their families and healthcare providers.
  • Processes – access to healthcare services, the manner and location of service delivery, procedures for follow-up care, and the interface between clinical care and clinical research environments.
  • Technology – the application of information and communication technology (ICT) in healthcare practices.

Chronic diseases are long-term illnesses that do not resolve spontaneously and are rarely entirely cured. Their management requires participation of a diversity of healthcare disciplines (e.g. medical, nursing, psychology, physiotherapy, administration) in a variety of healthcare settings (e.g. community, primary care, specialist hospital) together with the active participation of the patient (and/or family/carer) in their own self-management.

She said timely sharing and exchange of standardised clinical information and efficient communication both within and across organisational boundaries are key to achieving effective management. Electronic patient records (EPR) can facilitate this and promote a continuum of healthcare services for the benefit of the patient.

The Beaumont team - Back row:  Mary Dunne, IT Department, Patricia O’Byrne, Business Analyst,  Jarlath Varley, Evaluation Researcher, Brendan Dunleavy, Software Engineer and  Paula Corr, Epilepsy Nurse Specialist. Front Row:  Dr. Sunny Chan, Irish College of General Practitioners, Dr. Norman Delanty, Consultant Epileptologist,   Kathryn McCormick, Neurology Secretary,  An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, Mary Fitzsimons, Programme Director, Lucia Navazalopes, Software Engineer, Maire White, Advanced Nurse Practitioner and  Gus Mulligan,Financial Controller.
The Beaumont team - Back row: Mary Dunne, IT Department, Patricia O’Byrne, Business Analyst, Jarlath Varley, Evaluation Researcher, Brendan Dunleavy, Software Engineer and Paula Corr, Epilepsy Nurse Specialist. Front Row: Dr. Sunny Chan, Irish College of General Practitioners, Dr. Norman Delanty, Consultant Epileptologist, Kathryn McCormick, Neurology Secretary, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, Mary Fitzsimons, Programme Director, Lucia Navazalopes, Software Engineer, Maire White, Advanced Nurse Practitioner and Gus Mulligan,Financial Controller.

However, patient medical records are still largely paper-based with each healthcare agency keeping its own exclusive records. This contributes to fragmentation of healthcare services. Uncoordinated patient care, conflicting advice, delays in diagnosis and treatment, and redundancy in the system with unnecessary repetition of information gathering and diagnostic investigation could result. Web-based EPRs can improve this so that the same health record is available to all authorised healthcare providers, regardless of geographical location.

“The benefits are that the same patient information is available to each discipline involved in patient care, multiple users of the record can have simultaneous access to the record, and an electronic record is more readily interrogated than paper records.

“Using epilepsy as a probe into chronic disease management, this project describes the design, development and implementation of a secure web-based EPR. This EPR is now in daily use supporting clinical care of people with epilepsy in Ireland. It is promoting a service that is more responsive to the needs of patients.

“Information is available in a more timely fashion and more clinicians have access to the same information, thus promoting a model of shared epilepsy care. Our innovative project is leading the way in Ireland in exploiting ICT to enhance quality and safety of chronic disease management while containing cost.”

This research and development project was funded by the Health Research Board.