Piyush Mahapatra has always wanted to fix things. That’s why he became a surgeon – and it’s also why he is a fierce advocate of clinically-led digital transformation, writes Jennifer Trueland.
In the dual roles of being a working clinician and digital health innovator, Piyush Mahapatra is helping to save lives.
“Driven by a deep passion for repairing broken things, I chose to pursue a career in trauma and orthopaedic surgery,” says Mahapatra, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and division digital and innovation lead at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospital NHS Trust. “And while I am still practising, my drive to revolutionise healthcare delivery through the power of technology led me to become director of innovation at Open Medical, a dynamic, clinically-led digital transformation scale-up.”
Mahapatra stresses the significance of clinical leadership, customisation, and iterative development in digital transformation solutions.
“We understand that the healthcare landscape is complex and that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach simply won’t work,” he says. “We transform healthcare delivery through clinician-centric innovations. We work alongside healthcare providers to help them achieve digital transformation.
“This is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that will continue to evolve over the years. To support our clients through this journey, we equip them with the necessary tools and knowledge to thrive in the ever-evolving healthcare industry.”
User-centred digital solutions
Mahapatra explains that at Open Medical, clinicians actively participate in all stages of the innovation process, from design to scale and adoption. This collaborative approach enables the development of digital solutions that effectively address real problems and offer substantial benefits to end-users.
“We believe in the power of diverse expertise and knowledge; we are a diverse group of professionals, including those with clinical, technical, and research backgrounds. By working collaboratively, we can develop innovative solutions that prioritise patient care and meet the needs of healthcare providers.”
He adds: “Our focus on patient choice, advocacy, and shared decision-making means that we have a patient and public engagement coordinator to ensure that the patient voice is captured in any innovations we provide.”
A solution that solves real problems
Open Medical’s PathpointⓇ eDerma platform is a prime illustration of this. The cloud-based platform is clinically coded and specifically designed to assist dermatology services in meeting the national target of ensuring patients in need of urgent specialist care do not have to wait more than two weeks. Unfortunately, due to the surge in demand for services, along with financial pressures and staffing shortages, thousands of patients are currently waiting well beyond the two-week timeframe.
The eDerma platform aims to optimise the end-to-end patient journey and bring some of those care elements closer to home, increasing the skills and capability of existing workforce and resources to utilise them more effectively.
“No two dermatology services are the same, and we believe that the best model of care is the one that is tailored to the specific needs and resources of each individual service to ultimately help patients get diagnosed and treated faster, which can save lives.” says Mahapatra.
The platform enables services to create significant pathway efficiencies to ensure they can see the highest number of patients possible, as efficiently as possible, and give them the best care possible. There are also opportunities to help even out peaks and troughs in demand so that staff can be used more effectively across multiple sites. This is vital as the NHS struggles to address backlogs that worsened during the pandemic.
As Mahapatra mentioned, it’s essential that each eDerma model is unique and tailored to the client’s requirements. For example, the process of how patients obtain their photograph and clinical information through the eDerma models varies depending on the individual healthcare organisation, he adds.
In one London trust, for instance, secondary care nurses are available to obtain patients’ necessary clinical information and take their photographs, but this isn’t always the case. A shortage of nurses in a London ICS led to a different approach, where patients fill in a digital questionnaire sent automatically with eDerma after being referred by a GP. They then visit a medical photographer in secondary care who doesn’t need to take clinical information.
Achieving the Two-Week Wait Target
“With all our eDerma models, dermatologists are provided with all the information they require to make remote assessments and provide outcomes. By having this information readily available, dermatologists can save valuable time and focus on providing the best possible care to their patients.”
The results so far are impressive. “One trust that was previously achieving less than 1% for the two-week wait target, now has 99% of patients assessed by a consultant dermatologist within two weeks of referral over the course of two months,” says Mahapatra. “Additionally, 51.5% of cases achieved a diagnosis or treatment decision within 14 days. This is helping them towards their faster diagnostic standard (28 days to diagnosis) compliance.”
Ultimately, it’s helping dermatology services to save lives, while improving the way they work and cutting waiting times. As a practising clinician, Mahapatra prioritises ensuring that solutions are practical and applicable in real-life situations. “We take into account the space, staff, and resources available, and create unique models that best suit their needs,” he says. “We prioritise listening to our users and understanding the real problems they face on the ground to deliver real-world benefits to both healthcare providers and patients.”
Piyush Mahapatra and the Open Medical team will be exhibiting at Digital Health Rewired on stand A17 from March 14-15. Open Medical would love to hear your thoughts.
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