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EPIC supports PEP Health to pair with Cornish GP practices – and create a Cornish job too!  

Kirsty Marrs |10, May, 2022

Championing patient insight is very important to the EPIC team, as it is a fundamental part of building an eHealth ecosystem which places quality patient care firmly at its heart. When we heard that a team of innovators wanted to identify what patients really think about their own care in the Cornish healthcare system, particularly primary care – we were delighted!

The innovation is The Patient Experience Platform (PEP Health). The founders, Alex and Meghan both bring deep expertise in data analysis and qualitative methods and healthcare, working across the public sector, academic and including work with the CQC intelligent monitoring service. The founders wanted to empower the patient voice and its use in generating meaningful and actionable quality improvement. To influence the provision of respectful care, by including patient opinion about the service they have received.

PEP Health technology is well established in the secondary care domain, where the team work closely with partner Trusts to deliver real time patient insights through their bespoke dashboard service. By working with EPIC, PEP Health are expanding their digital solution into primary care to ultimately ensure to voice of patients across the whole integrated care system can be heard.

The Patient Experience Platform works by harnessing the wisdom of the crowds; collecting patient insights and experiences from a range of sources such as online forums and social media posts, combining the findings with health provider surveys such as the friends and family test and generating measurable and comparable insights that enable healthcare providers to benchmark performance and quality, as well as spot safety concerns and areas for improvement as well as celebration.

The PEP Health technology works by automatically collecting thousands of comments across multiple sources, identifying the relevant comments, tagging each comment to key quality of care domains*, scoring and labelling the location of the comment. The patient comments that are collected are typically unstructured and left spontaneously when and where the individual is keen to share.

When these insights are gathered, analysed and presented to providers in near-real time, it can help providers to identify and understand issues which are important to the individual, which they were previously unaware of, or didn’t think to ask.

It isn’t all just areas for improvement and criticism, but importantly includes areas for celebration – which is a huge win for boosting the morale of frontline staff.

The innovative way that the data is collected and reported has not gone unnoticed, PEP Health were the only patient experience technology to take part in the 2020 NHS innovation accelerator, showcased at the G7 summit in Cornwall 2021 and were accepted onto the prestigious AWS Accelerator in 2022. The team won an Innovate UK competition gaining £800,000 that helped them to scale, plus they were awarded the HTN prize for best user-led/experience innovation, which is no wonder when the tool was recognised as being a key driver of COVID-19 recovery for UK health systems!

Now that PEP Health has firmly found their feet in Cornwall, we wanted to catch up with the team to find out more about their innovation journey.

Can you tell us a little about the PEP Health project in Cornwall?

Meghan: PEP can’t wait to really make a difference in Cornwall, it’s a really unique place – not just because of the culture and beauty – but its health system and integrated care landscape.

We hope by working with the general practice test sites that EPIC has paired us with, we will be able to learn more about how patients share their thoughts about the experiences they have had with their GP. This will not only help to develop our analysis further, it will drive rapid improvements for patients too – their thoughts will be listened to and could inspire change.

How has EPIC supported PEP Health, and what is next?

Meghan: Engaging with EPIC has led to a very successful outcome for us, as we have had such brilliant support from the team and the shared intellect helped us to solve problems we didn’t even know we had! Not only were we funded through the project, with the expert help of Access to Finance, we have made valuable connections in primary care in Cornwall and have been supported by the University of Plymouth, a collaboration that we hope continues long into the future.

Now that PEP will be working with up to five fantastic Cornish GPs we can use the opportunity to learn, in order to roll out the results to GPs across the county, and after that, England too! This has allowed us to employ Ben to support PEP in Cornwall.

Ben: I’ve recently joined PEP Health as a data scientist to help collect patient experience data and use this to deliver meaningful and actionable insights. My background is in engineering and health sciences research. Specifically, investigating how to monitor the physical activity patterns of amputees.

I think it’s really important to develop the growing digital health tech scene in the South West. There’s a small but enthusiastic community that’s gaining attention and it’s great to be included in this.

I’m lucky to be able to work remotely and when my partner managed to secure a position working at the Royal Cornwall hospital, we were excited to be closer to family and the sea. As keen surfers, we get to see some of the most beautiful views of the Cornish coastline. Our best experience so far is surfing with seals at St Agnes!

If you would like to explore collaboration with the University of Plymouth and health providers in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, get in touch with us

For press enquiries, please contact Kirsty.Marrs@plymouth.ac.uk