Give us a brief overview of your organisation
Connect Health is a leading community services healthcare provider encompassing mental health, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, tier-2 MSK (musculoskeletal), chronic pain, functional disorder/long Covid, First Contact Practitioners (FCP) and rheumatology services, serving over 375k NHS patients pa across 22 NHS ICBs (Integrated Care Boards).
As the largest independent MSK and pain services provider, Connect Health supports the NHS to deliver care in more appropriate community settings. Our overall mission is to support the NHS, our colleagues, and the public by creating a more personalised and efficient service in the hopes of reducing waiting times and clinical administration tasks.
What are the benefits of basing your business in the North East?
Connect Health was established over 30 years ago in the North East and has specialist expertise in delivering sustained transformation through its dedication to patient care, sophisticated infrastructure, digital tools, highly advanced clinical, operational insight and change methodology. Today, Connect Health has clinics right across England, but our head office remains in Newcastle upon Tyne along with our contact centre, which we find to be advantageous as the Geordie accent remains one of the friendliest in the UK and helps to put our patients at ease.
From a Tech perspective, the North East is building a reputation as a fast-growing hub for technology and businesses in the UK. Coupled with the fact that we have Durham and Newcastle Universities on our doorstep, it helps us to attract highly skilled candidates who are critical to the success of our digital transformation ambitions.
How does your organisation strive to make a positive impact on the local community, and why is this important to your overall mission?
At Connect, we are embarking on a digital transformation journey, with the aim to make health more accessible to all communities. We have made some really good progress on this so far, having launched several digital products to support this objective including:
- In partnership with EQL, we have launched PhysioNow, a digital self-assessment tool, providing information to physiotherapists about the patient prior to their consultation. Users can remotely access an initial assessment 24/7, addressing apprehension from patients in accessing face-to-face services.
- The launch of our patient portal – allowing patients a single point to manage their appointments, view letters, and link directly to exercise programmes. With the ability to auto-book appointments, we see this as a key piece of technology to help patients have more control over their care planning and management.
- Just recently, we have built the capability to collect patient reported outcome measures (PROMS) electronically via an online form, replacing a manual collection method. This allows patients to complete at their own time and pace, removing the demand on clinicians during the clinical appointment (leaving more time for consultation) and allowing us to collect long-term data on patient health and wellbeing beyond discharge from the service. This data provides us with many ways to analyse the delivery of services to improve patient care in our community, tackle inequality and direct services to where they are needed.
The outcomes of these projects mean that we can reduce wait times in services, encourage patients to self-manage their condition and grant physiotherapists information prior to an appointment, creating better clinical outcomes and improving the health of those in our communities.
We also work with local schools across the Northeast, providing hardware and education on IT – our aim is to support as many children as possible to access IT to support their learning and development. We support local charities, providing free IT support to ensure they are getting the most from their infrastructures and to leverage any cost savings on IT budgets.
What are your hopes for the future of the North East’s tech and digital industry?
Although 90% of the population regularly access the internet, only 25% of people have registered for digital access with their GP. As mentioned previously, we have made good progress on improving digital access for our patients, and our hopes for the future of tech and digital are to work together with the public to meet everyone’s needs. Digital healthcare technologies, digital medicine, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are a new means of addressing the big healthcare challenges of the 21st century and we would like to see these being addressed in the future.
What are your business objectives for the next 12 months?
As a business, one of our key objectives for the next 12 months is to continue to innovate the way in which we provide services to our patients, and our digital transformation roadmap is key to supporting this. We will also focus on making our existing infrastructure and systems more efficient and futureproof, to ensure we can continue to deliver against Connect’s growth ambitions.
Why did you join Dynamo?
At Connect Health, we’re passionate about using tech for the greater good, and there are so many other organisations in the North East who share the same passion. Dynamo provides access to a fantastic network of likeminded organisations and people, enabling us to learn from other and share best practice. It also provides a fantastic platform to share success – we were privileged to be one of the Dynamite winners in 2021 and 2022, where we spent the evening celebrating all of the fantastic achievements which were happening across the North East in the Tech sector.
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