The common territorial challenges that tackled by the project

In healthcare services the non-clinical functions supporting end user facing actions are key to sustainable service delivery. If they fail, substantial high risk effects on the end user can occur. All regions are experiencing a rapid growth in IoT innovations, and although some non-clinical operations are recognised, this is an underdeveloped market, but one that is full of disruptive opportunities using IoT technologies. Strategies for healthcare are newly developing, even while the IoT infrastructure is being implemented, and non-clinical functions require more integration. Each region has different developments in terms of strategy and implementation –e.g. in Scotland, the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) (for public bodies) is soon to receive a roll-out of IoT capability - but the potential for non-clinical applications is yet to be developed in any region, and there is substantial opportunity to effect rapid change in a wide range of non-clinical IoT applications. The three regions can share best practice; engage with end users; develop a joint IOT Strategy; and, can develop a process for implementing IoT pilots for non-clinical applications effectively. The output of the project i.e. an evidenced IoT strategy and best practice methodology incorporating a process for supporting IoT (non-clinical) innovation and implementation, will enable substantial cost efficiencies to be achieved, effective decision-making and business planning, more effective management of assets and benefits to patients and staff. Stakeholder needs will form the basis of the proposed strategy and will be central throughout the development of the project. Stakeholders will be those whose job it is to achieve change, increase efficiency and integration and reduce costs across the whole of a healthcare service. Following initial data gathering (interviews etc) with stakeholders, the development of the non-clinical IoT strategy and process will be iterative.

The project's innovative approach in addressing these common challenges

IoT makes rapid progress in the healthcare area, but it is dominated by clinical data opportunities. This is beneficial for all of those engaged in healthcare i.e. patients / clinicians, but partly neglects the healthcare providers’ non-clinical functions that comprise essential services required for effective overall service delivery. TESTED is focussed on the opportunities for innovation in non-clinical IoT, especially in relation to the delivery and functioning of these services in remote and rural regions - where traditional asset management, water, energy and many other aspects utilises staff to physically travel across large distances to monitor and manage such actions. The introduction of non-clinical IoT is compartmentalised and reactive, often driven by urgency and cost reduction drivers, having little time to consider innovation in a strategic manner. TESTED is designed to offer that strategic view and process. By developing a cross-national stakeholder co-designed process, a robust validated integrated system of identification of need based on accurate forecasting of technical, financial and resource drivers can be developed. More specifically, a review of existing technologies can be supported, and opportunities for disruptive innovation identified, evaluated and made accessible to those non-clinical staff requiring it. The inclusion of experts within health services will also be built into the TESTED process i.e. R&D, procurement, IT and others where appropriate. The outcome of the TESTED project is expected to be a substantive and effective change in the way in which disruptive technologies are introduced into the non-clinical IoT infrastructure leading to efficiencies, cost reductions and patient benefits. Previously funded projects include SHINE which seeks to support healthcare, business and other stakeholders to develop equitable innovation; and, Digital Service Tray which digitises local service suppliers.

Transnational cooperation to achieve the project's objectives and result

Transnational cooperation enables large scale solutions to be identified and supported across regional healthcare providers. While the actual innovations to solve existing non-clinical problems may already exist, there is inconsistency within service providers in the ways they go about identifying these problems and potential solutions. Their approach to innovation tends to be in silos lacking strategic evaluation in the ways in which innovative companies and solutions are tested, validated and procured. TESTED focuses on an issue that is applicable in any country which has a service aiming to deliver health care - in reviewing current processes and patterns, innovation is incorporated at local, regional or national level but while some support exists these approaches are not built on the inclusion of the non-clinical staff engaged in the services. Such approaches reinforce the silo approach, as single innovations are assessed but not within the context of the wider non-clinical system - and few include IoT solutions. TESTED can provide an inclusive service based and co-designed (including healthcare service staff especially within non-clinical areas) system that would be applicable to any health care service, as it focuses on the context in which such disruptive innovations are required. It also provides a validated process aimed at achieving access to, and incorporation of, the best solutions possible against established technical, financial and resource capacity criteria. The outputs and outcome of TESTED will be applicable and implementable in the three Partner regions, but will also be fully implementable in any region that seeks to enable disruptive technologies using IoT into its health service. It will provide a system and process and a jointly developed strategy that can be implemented at the level of the whole service, enabling effective identification, development, validation and access to innovation both vertically and horizontally across services.

Project main objectives

The programme seeks to address some of the key issues of living and working in remote and rural landscapes. TESTED specifically addresses the challenges of long distances, for example, where manual processes can be replaced by IoT solutions that support automated actions including monitoring and dashboard management. This new approach can reduce climate change impacts. Connectivity can be a challenge in remote and rural areas, especially those with mountains which can restrict web based access. However, IoT infrastructure support and development can address these issues, and the inclusion of a corporate business i.e. CAPITA as an associate partner will allow this aspect to be effectively addressed across even the most remote and inaccessible of landscapes. The low population density in these remote and rural regions often means that technical knowledge and skills capacity are in short supply as it can be difficult to recruit and retain staff. Again, IoT solutions for non-clinical services means that a highly skilled individual may be able to run a key service within a central location or hub, and may support individuals with less skills or knowledge in more remote areas.

Project main results

  • A healthcare (and other public body) system wide solution that changes the present reactive culture of non-clinical services to one in which a strategic vision and process enables the rapid but validated incorporation of disruptive IoT technologies into system wide healthcare services
  • A jointly developed best practice based non-clinical IoT strategy for health services (also applicable to other public bodies)
  • A co-designed practical process incorporating the components of strategic review (what needs to be changed), identification of needs (technical, financial, resource capacity)
  • Templates for the process
  • Integration into health service processes (i.e. procurement) TESTED's contribution to the programme result indicator is positive in that supports awareness of IoT opportunities and technologies for non-clinical healthcare service professionals.