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The people Behind the Digital Health Projects – Dr Quentin Kingsbury

The launch of Definition LifeBox across the Trust’s two acute hospitals, West Cumberland Hospital and Cumberland Infirmary, has been Dr Q’s goal for more than four years. 

Dr Q, as he prefers to be known, has been the driving force behind the project to digitise NCIC’s  surgical pathway for all adult elective patients. He says that in all his 22 years as a consultant anaesthetist at the Trust, this has been “the most significant change in practice to support surgical patients’ care that I have ever been involved with”.

“I have been trying to develop and lead a patient focused, evidence-based pre-assessment service for north Cumbria since 2015 when the Trust merged the two separate pre-assessment services into one and I was honoured to be appointed as the clinical lead.  I thought the emerging digital pre-assessment platforms would be locally useful to patients and the Trust.”

However, he discovered the digital platforms of the time did not integrate with the wider surgical pathway and were not patient centred. That is until he encountered Definition LifeBox in 2018 –  the year the digital pre-operative health assessment app was created by a team of medics and technology experts. Even in those early days of LifeBox, Dr Q says he could “see its strengths in its simplicity and the patient-centric structure”.

But it wasn’t until the COVID pandemic and the national spotlight on addressing the considerable surgical backlog, that Dr Q’s ambition was realised. At the start of the pandemic, he returned from flexible retirement to support the Trust, and has stayed on, working fulltime in pre-assessment to help the NCIC address the surgical backlog. 

“I did attempt to persuade the Trust to invest in digital pre-assessment early in the Covid pandemic but the cost and the distraction of Covid were deemed too great at that time.” 

However, last year saw the announcement of NHS funding for recovery coupled with publications such as the government paper “Getting it Right First Time” which promoted the role of electronic patient pathways as part of the solution to the surgical backlog. This paved the way for the NCIC’s successful bid for funding from the NHS Elective Recovery Technology Fund to invest in LifeBox in autumn 2021.

Dr Q says it has been a huge task to turn round the project in just over six months and only achievable because of the “amazing support” from the Trust’s pre-assessment nurses, administrators, clinical management and NCIC IT project team and with the “fabulous support from Definition Health’s team who designed the IT platform”.

“I am obviously apprehensive about the process of significant changes to the way we do things at the Trust, but I have no doubt that this will very much improve the quality of pre-assessment, the empowerment of patients to support shared-decision making and our ability to support our patient’s preparation for surgery.”