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North-East software developer’s partnership with one of the UK’s largest NHS trusts


12 October, 2017  

When managers at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust decided they needed an easy-to-use health and well-being application for employees, they turned to long-time software partner Excelpoint, in County Durham.

The trust called on Newton Aycliffe-based Excelpoint – www.excelpoint.co.uk – for help because, with thousands of staff working at dozens of sites on a range of different shift patterns, something radical was required.

Using Excelpoint’s unique technology – which helps businesses create unique software solutions quickly and easily without the need for bespoke code – the trust was able to devise a new system for unifying all its health and wellbeing activities under one brand.
The trust leveraged the expertise of its healthcare professionals, including occupational health physiotherapists, clinical psychologists, cognitive behavioural therapists and members of the health improvement team, who worked alongside Excelpoint to create a unique application, accessible at any time of the day or night, which helps staff and their families lead a healthier lifestyle.

Brendan McConaghy, from the trust’s lead physiotherapist occupational health team, worked alongside Excelpoint to develop the application.

He said: “Through the use of Excelpoint’s software we were able to get the app built from scratch in a period of approximately four months. This was at a fraction of the time and cost than it would have been had we used another provider.  
“The content was entirely provided by various Belfast Trust healthcare professionals. I was able to edit the content easily, embed video and audio to get the app to market in the target timeframe.  

“Excelpoint had the job of keeping me on the right track and answering my daily queries to get the app past the post in time.  Since launch, we have enabled push notifications to help us keep the app live and relevant to its users, and we have lots of other development ideas for this year.”

The system – dubbed the b well programme – was rolled out just over a year ago and has proved incredibly successful with over 1000 app loads so far. Sixty per cent of the workforce say they would now recommend the trust as a great place to work and felt that the Trust promoted their health and wellbeing.

Damian McAlister, the trust’s director of human resources and organisational development, added: “The organisation places the health and well-being of our employees as a key priority within our corporate objectives. Health and well-being is also an individual, and indeed personal and private, matter. Being able to access the b well app allows employees the opportunity to avail of a wide range of information and support, at a time which best suits them, to help manage their own health and well-being. The app is an important part of our overarching b well campaign and helps us outreach to all staff, including those who unfortunately don’t have frequent access to our trust ICT network to access our online resources. I am delighted this app has been developed and commend its content to our employees and others.”

The b well app – www.bwellbelfast.hscni.net – proved to be so successful that Belfast Trust was shortlisted for the Wellbeing at Work Award at the 2017 Responsible Business Awards in Northern Ireland.

In fact, it has proven so good that the trust has given Excelpoint the go-ahead to market it to other companies – with all revenues being split between the partners. If all goes well, the b well app could be a lucrative source of new revenue for one of Britain’s biggest NHS trusts.

Excelpoint’s managing director Ian Brown explained: “We are hoping to sell the application in one of three ways: licensing the entire app itself, rebranding the app but still using the trust’s content or selling the basic framework to a customer who wants to produce their own content.”

Mr Brown said he hoped the b well app would appeal to charities, other NHS trusts and forward-thinking private companies looking to improve the health of their workforce. Excelpoint is already in talks with several organisations interested in using it.

Professor Ian Young, Director of Research for the Belfast Trust said: “The trust is delighted to have worked in partnership with Excelpoint to support this exciting development which has the potential to improve our services for patients and ensure Northern Ireland is at the forefront of innovation in health.”

HSC Innovations, the technology transfer service for Health and Social Care employees throughout Northern Ireland, facilitated the deal with Excelpoint.

Dr David Brownlee, of HSC Innovations, said: “This collaboration between industry and the HSC demonstrates the value of working with practising clinicians to identify technology opportunities and to develop new products for healthcare. These products can help to secure real improvements in healthcare practices locally, nationally and globally.”

Dr Brownlee also encourages HSC staff with innovative ideas to improve patient care to contact HSC Innovations for further assistance and support in developing ideas into products that will ultimately benefit patients.

In anticipation of keen interest from prospective customers, the North-East company’s software developers have added extra features to the application including body mass index, alcohol and dietary calculators, the ability to send feedback and signposting to other events and organisations for users. Mr Brown said the aim was to make an application that creates a sense of community among users.

The app has been ported to run on all major mobile phone operating systems, including Windows Mobile which is widely used by business organisations.

Mr Brown added: “We have taken b well to the next level. In fact, some of the refinements we developed have since been fed back into the original app used by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

“We’re delighted that something which started out as a customer project has turned into an exciting sales opportunity.”