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North East Regional Network Event 2017 Overview

Lisa Taylor & Hannah Mountford 

Sharing best practice, igniting collaboration and building relationships  

The 2nd annual North East Regional Network Event was held on 16th May 2017, hosted by Sunderland CCG and proved to be a day of sharing knowledge, building relationships and extending existing good practice.  The event hoped to capitalise on the success of the previous year’s event, and this was certainly the case!

Regional events take place across the UK to provide community members with the opportunity to meet and discuss their current and proposed pathways, share best practice and offer the potential for future collaboration with organisations also using Flo nearby.

Regional events are a great opportunity to share and celebrate the clinically driven innovation taking place across the region.  The day was kicked off by Lisa and Karen, who warmly welcomed attendees to the event and gave an update of recent news and events from around the Simple Telehealth Community; including introducing our new team members Hollie O’Connell and Hannah Mountford.

Ann Hughes, Practice Nurse and Flo Facilitator (Stoke-on-Trent) – A Day in Life

Following this, the Simple Shared Healthcare team made the most of today’s technology by dialling in with Ann Hughes, Practice Nurse and Flo Facilitator in Stoke-on-Trent, via Skype.  Ann shared her “on-the-ground” experiences of implementing the use of Flo in her own medical practice.  Ann’s dedication to her role and patients shone through, and the audience were captivated by her can-do attitude.  Ann’s belief in the benefits of using Flo was obvious to all, as she put it Flo really changed patient’s lives completely.  Furthermore, Ann gave us examples of how using Flo had really had a positive impact on the lives of her patients:

“ The patient was quite lonely, so she loved the texts from Flo. She actually wanted more texts! Flo made her feel like she was closer to everyone at the surgery.  

Patients on Flo are really tuned in to if there’s a problem with their health. Sometimes they will contact me before I even have chance to check their readings!

Ann’s video session ended with members of the audience putting their questions to her; many of these focused on how to best implement the use of Flo in a Primary Care environment.  Ann’s top tip to get other healthcare professionals and patient’s to start using Flo?
Start simply and build things up from there!

Delivering the Regional TECS Strategy in the North East

After Ann’s video call Jackie Smart from the North East and North Cumbria Academic Health Science Network gave a brief overview of her regional strategic role, and how this will be supporting the development of TECS across the North East including our Flo.  For more information you can contact Jackie at

A Text Message Intervention to Support Medicines Adherence Mobilised through Community Pharmacy (TIMELY)

Gemma Donovan MPharm MSc Academic Practitioner University of Sunderland & NHS Sunderland CCG

Next up was Gemma Donovan, who is currently studying for her PhD. Gemma answered our call for submissions when the event was announced; she presented her research proposal to us focussing on Flo’s role in motivating and engaging patients to improve their adherence to prescribed medicines.  Gemma began by talking us through some of the background research and information that had informed her own research subject.  According to Gemma, Flo seemed like a great subject for her research, as it utilises the most accessible form of technology we currently have – text messages via a mobile phone.  Gemma aims to really delve into what makes Flo work, and perhaps identify areas that could be improved upon further. To do so, she will focus on both qualitative and quantitative data from a variety of sources.  Indeed, Gemma has requested that anyone who may have case studies, patient stories etc. that focus on using Flo to improve medication adherence, would consider sharing these with her.  If you would like to know more about Gemma’s research, or think you would like to contribute, you can email her at

Supporting the Simple Telehealth Community

Lisa and Karen then discussed some new additions to the Member’s Resource Area at to help support our member’s to access and share their best practice.

Some highlights were the new online Clinician and System Administrator Training Guides, expanded protocol resources for the new Example Pathways area produced by Hollie and Hannah respectively.

Lisa and Karen discussed some new developments with Flo and also introduced some of the new organisations that have joined the Simple Telehealth Community recently.

Antenatal Clinics and Flo – Improving Outcomes, Experience and Capacity

Technology once again came into play after lunch, when the West Cumbria Specialist Diabetes Team who manage the antenatal diabetes service in West Cumbria with the support of the obstetric department of West Cumberland Hospital dialled in using Skype for an interactive discussion around how Flo has significantly improved both clinical outcomes and released clinic capacity.

Consultant Chandi Idampitiya, Specialist Diabetic Nurse Carol Wardynec, and Dietician Victoria Armstrong spoke to the audience about the positive impact that integrating Flo has had for both the team and their patients.  Audit findings demonstrated that:

  • Patients approved of Flo 
  • Patients like that they had to travel less as they had fewer appointments 
  • Patients felt supported 
  • 34% improvement in achieving HbA1c targets at 28 weeks 
  • 20% reduction in caesarean sections in Type 1 diabetes 
  • 15% reduction in pre term deliveries in Type 1 diabetes

The team also commented how being able to integrate Flo into their pathway has greatly impacted on their ability to provide quality care to a growing number of patients, especially as the team is relatively small and operates from a small area of a larger hospital.

 Flo has helped us by reducing the number of face to face appointments we have. If we didn’t have Flo our clinics would increase.

Similar to Ann’s earlier video call, the team rounded off their session with a question and answer section.  Their input on the day was well received, and this was reflected by the comments made and questions asked afterwards.  The team’s findings will hopefully be published soon.

Sunderland’s Carer’s Connect Service

Rachael Forbister then gave us an overview of Sunderland’s Carer’s Connect Service developed ‘with carers, for carers’ which recruited Flo as a supportive tool.  Carers receive a mixture of support, information and motivational messages from Flo, as well as being asked about their mood or how they feel from time to time.

I think the texting service is a fantastic idea, and it’s something that is really, really needed. I’ve been a carer myself for 5 years now, and I know from my own experience how beneficial it would be to just have someone at the end of the phone; it’s invaluable.  Carer’s comment from the Carer’s Connect Service Launch video

Rachael also announced that excitingly, Sunderland CCG has undertaken a project to have a Flo character designed as part of their Vanguard programme.  A local graphic design company was commissioned to create a cartoon likeness of Flo for use on information posters, leaflets and so on.  Watch this space for more information on this exciting development!

A key aim of regional network events is to give those who attend the chance to discuss Flo with other health professionals allowing questions on a variety of subjects to be asked and answered. The discussions proved to be very productive for all, with contributions from various fields of healthcare, including South Tyneside’s Learning Disabilities Service, Gateshead’s Talking Therapies and the Regional Ambulance Service. Many comments were made highlighting how Flo has, and continues to make positive improvements for both patients and healthcare professionals.

West Cumbria have really flown with Flo. We have one practice who use Flo for all of their hypertension protocols and they love it. ” Miriam Baird, Commissioning Officer with North of England Commissioning Support

Flo is amazing, something that we should be using more often. ” Jan Gorman, Health Support Worker with Community Learning

The feedback about Flo has been amazing, no complaints at all .” Kathryn Sumner, Safe Care Lead with STFT Talking Therapies

Much like the previous year, the North East Regional Network Event proved to be a great success.  We heard some amazing stories about how Flo is really making an impact for both patients and healthcare professionals alike.  We would like to say thank you to all those who were involved and helped to make the day the success it was, and also thank you to everyone who attended the event and contributed so much to the community discussion sessions.  We look forward to next year’s 3rd annual North East Event!

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