Emma Cooney

I’m a nurse with 11 years of senior operating theatre management experience, and I worked on the clinical integration team for the high-tech areas of the new children's’ hospital. From the outset, the team knew that we wanted to maximise patient activity and improve patient care. In the existing childrens’ hospitals, we were seeing a lot of returning patients and not enough new patients. How could we change this?

I was already upskilling by studying on RCSI’s MSc in Healthcare Management, part of which involves an action project. At Tallaght Hospital, we saw a ratio of two returns to every one new patient and I wanted to reverse that. So, working with my colleagues, we wanted to see if we could use telemedicine to support existing patients. Just as we were getting it off the ground, Covid hit -and so telemedicine became essential.

We saw only non-complex patients who had gone through straightforward, low-risk surgeries. It was a data-driven project that involved me looking at how this had worked in other countries including the UK, US and Canada. A clinical nurse specialist spoke to the patients and their parents over the phone or through video calls, and could refer any complexities to a consultant if needed. The evidence was there to support the project.

For children, it meant they didn’t have to travel to Dublin and take time off school. For parents, it meant not having to take time off work and organise care for their other children. And for the hospital staff, it meant that we were able to redirect resources to new patients.The data was clear: over six weeks, we reversed the ratio of current patients to new patients from 2:1 to 1:2. It’s now integrated into the model of care for the new children’s hospital, which will be a digital hospital.

I’m so glad that I had the chance to do this project at RCSI, as it will make a real difference to the lives of children and their families.

Learn more about our MSc in Healthcare Management programme here.