As part of a growing trend internationally, organisations in the UK are increasingly introducing proactive wellness programmes for employees and NHS commissioning groups are referring patients for fitness sessions, as means of improving people’s physical and mental health. In addition to benefits for individuals, there are positive outcomes for businesses and healthcare providers. Improved wellbeing keeps more people in work and reduces costs associated with absence, lost productivity and ongoing medical care.
Yet in order to secure ongoing funding for such initiatives, those prescribing the health interventions need proof that programmes deliver tangible improvements. iMPACT Software was launched at the beginning of 2017 to fill this gap in the market.
There were no existing tools for measuring health intervention and wellness outcomes, which meant a huge opportunity was being missed.
“There were no existing tools for measuring health intervention and wellness outcomes, which meant a huge opportunity was being missed,” explains Georgia Dowdeswell, iMPACT Software’s business development manager. “There is plenty of funding available for intervention programmes – whether for weight management, improved social confidence or stopping smoking. The challenge is to demonstrate results.”
There is plenty of funding available for intervention programmes – whether for weight management, improved social confidence or stopping smoking. The challenge is to demonstrate results.
iMPACT’s ambitions were crystalised when wellness solution provider Everyone Health needed to implement an evidence-gathering solution. Everyone Health is a leading provider of wellness solutions to local authorities in the UK; its sister organisation, Everyone Active, is a customer of Gladstone Software, whose software it uses to manage bookings for public sector leisure services.
iMPACT Software wanted to see if Everyone Health’s existing business operations system, designed by bespoke software development partner, DCSL GuideSmiths, could be redesigned – not only as the basis for an evidence-gathering solution for Everyone Health, but as the basis for a commercial solution which iMPACT Software could take to market. Everyone Health would benefit from this as a customer, and iMPACT would sell the system to businesses and healthcare commissioners which need to show the impact of health intervention initiatives.
iMPACT not only gives us the hard evidence that we need to provide to funders, it also gives us the ability to capture case studies and the kind of gems of evidence that really demonstrate our success stories
The new system needed advanced reporting and workflow capabilities. One priority was to automate communications such as email and SMS, and prompt health practitioners if data collection was due – for example as part of a 12-week intervention programme, Ms Dowdeswell says. “The idea is that a baseline measure for an individual is taken on day one, then measurements are taken at the end, and every few months after that, to measure the improvement and check whether those positive changes have been maintained over time,” she explains.
The new system would also need to provide for controlled self-service, allowing individuals, funders and approved officials (such as occupational health professionals, GPs, physiotherapy practitioners and counsellors) to gain access to their progress information via user-appropriate portals.
DCSL GuideSmiths, a Microsoft Gold Partner, built the new system using the latest Microsoft technology – including ASP.NET MVC 5 and C#, with SQL Server as the database. To maximise its appeal, iMPACT specified that the software should be based on commonly-used technology and be truly mobile – easily adapting to whichever sized screen a user might be working from (whether a desktop PC or a tablet or smartphone out in the field). iMPACT specified an SQL database and browser-based technologies.
Key features of the expanded system include a flexible questionnaire generation tool, with drag-and-drop functionality to allow the key data collection forms/questionnaires (used to capture data in the system) to be produced quickly and easily. DCSL GuideSmiths also provided question logic so that, based on the answers to questions, the user automatically skips past questions or to the end of a questionnaire.
To prompt practitioners to enter progress data, DCSL GuideSmiths developed a facility for automated notifications: the system can be configured to send messages or reminders (by email, letter or text message); update a participant; or create a task. The added benefit of these notifications is the improved retention as a result of better communication between the providing organisation and the participant.
To ensure that sensitive data doesn’t get into the wrong hands, DCSL GuideSmiths added fine-grained data access permissions throughout the system, so that practitioners or programme manager users are only able to access certain course data.
Finally, DCSL GuideSmiths designed individual portals so that participants can look up their own data and monitor their own progress, while doctors and other professionals can use their own portals to refer patients into the system and track their results.
Because the system is browser-based, each adopter of the iMPACT solution can choose to run the system on their own premises or have it hosted in a secure data centre. DCSL GuideSmiths migrated Everyone Health’s existing data to the new, expanded system, enabling complete continuity.
Everyone Health, iMPACT Software’s largest client, went live on the new system late in 2016 and already runs three major health intervention contracts through it, covering more than 140 programmes and serving around 100 practitioners/referrers.
The idea is that a baseline measure for an individual is taken on day one, then measurements are taken at the end, and every few months after that, to measure the improvement and check whether those positive changes have been maintained over time
The benefits were immediate, according to Steph Shadwell, Everyone Health’s data informatics manager. “iMPACT not only gives us the hard evidence that we need to provide to funders, it also gives us the ability to capture case studies and the kind of gems of evidence that really demonstrate our success stories,” she says.