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TUH project for headache patients saved over €240k

By David Lynch - 25th Jun 2023

Young woman with a headache talking with her doctor.

A project at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) to optimise the management of headache patients attending the emergency department avoided up to 116 admissions between September 2022 and April 2023.

The initiative won the best admissions avoidance project at the HSE Spark Summit in Dublin on 15 June.

The project involved a new care pathway facilitating timely access to imaging and consultant neurologist review. It received initial funding of €25,000 from the HSE Spark programme and delivered savings of €240,867.

The project was led by Dr Petya Bogdanova-Mihaylova, Consultant Neurologist at TUH. The team also included Dr Victoria Meighan, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at TUH.

Dr Hannah O’Keeffe, Clinical Innovation Fellow at TUH, spoke at the summit about the work undertaken by the hospital’s innovation centre since its establishment in 2021. She told attendees that a lot has been achieved in just under two years, but “we have bigger aspirations”. 

“…. Our vision is for [a new] innovation centre to be built on site just opposite the front of the hospital and we hope that this [will be] built in three-to-four years’ time.”

She said the innovation centre supported staff who had ideas for projects and initiatives and could help to identify funding opportunities.

“We encourage people in the hospital to come to us early with ideas, or even before they have ideas, to come to us with the challenges and problems and [the centre] can help to work with them to develop solutions.”

Speaking prior to the Spark Summit, Ms Caitriona Heffernan, HSE Spark Innovation Lead, said the HSE hoped to establish a ‘design and innovation co-lab’ in each of the six new regional health areas. 

During the summit, teams from across the country showcased projects with 12 receiving ‘Bright Spark’ awards. The CEO innovation award was won by the Skinnovate team, which involved the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital’s dermatology department, North Dublin City GP Training Programme, and GP practices in Community Healthcare Organisation 9 (with pilots in GP practices in Ballymun and Grangegorman primary care centres). 

The project was about “transforming how routine skin conditions are managed across the healthcare system”. Mater Transformation, the innovation office at the Mater, achieved a 40 per cent reduction in the dermatology outpatient waiting list and reduced the average waiting time for “urgent” referrals from 81 to 41 days.

Other award-wining projects included the ‘emergency front of neck access (eFONA) simulator’. St James’s Hospital in Dublin collaborated with designers from the National College of Art and Design to develop bespoke simulators for anaesthesiology trainees to teach them the core skill of emergency surgical airway.

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