The Cork nurse prioritising patients by digitising paperwork

27 Jan 2021579 Views

Image: Ali-Rose Sisk

Ali-Rose Sisk wants give to more time back to nurses to care for patients by digitising paperwork and cutting down administrative work.

While Covid-19 has put the spotlight on innovation in healthcare in recent months, many people with experience in the industry had already been working on ideas, tools and systems to improve processes in the sector.

One of these is nursing graduate Ali-Rose Sisk, who founded SafeCare Nursing Solutions, a system that digitises written documentation, allowing more time for patient care.

25-year-old Sisk grew up in east Cork where she worked part-time in a nursing home. “I loved working with older people and people who have dementia, which subsequently shaped my career pathway,” she told Siliconrepublic.com.

‘We as nurses had reduced patient contact time as a result of excessive paperwork’
– ALI-ROSE SISK

Sisk’s college journey started with nursing, where she said she was involved with very hands-on clinical medicine and science. She then began a research master’s in medicine and health, which gave her more in-depth knowledge about the level of research involved in medical decision-making.

“Throughout the course of my MSc, I found a problem in that we as nurses had reduced patient contact time as a result of excessive paperwork,” she said.

“As I moved through my career, the time on paperwork and the paper workload continued to increase. This greatly reduced time spent with patients, which in turn reduced quality of care. I thought long and hard about how we could improve this problem for nurses both nationally and internationally – SafeCare was the solution.”

SafeCare has developed software that aims to completely digitise nursing documentation to decrease administrative time. “We have validated a working prototype and we are currently looking for funding to get to market,” said Sisk. “We are exploring options right now with the aim to raise €250,000 in April 2021.”

While Sisk’s strength is her experience in the healthcare sector, tech entrepreneurship has been a whole new world for her.

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“I knew that trying to start my own software company as a person without technical skills would be a challenge but I also knew that if I believed it, it could happen, and if I believed in me, people will believe in me.

“If I felt doubtful or disheartened, I would revisit my strengths, park them and put them in my intellectual arsenal, and focus back on my weaker areas and aim to improve them. I also went out and searched for the right type of people to surround myself with who would help me reach my goals and make this happen.”

Research into dementia

Outside of her work with SafeCare, Sisk has been working on a Marie Curie PhD scholarship in London to develop NHS palliative care services for people with early-onset dementia.

“My research focuses on a particular type of brain degeneration named frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), which is a common cause of young-onset dementia,” she said.

“The idea behind my research is to explore what the palliative care needs of people with FTLD dementias are in terms of physical, psychological, social and spiritual pain. Understanding the types of pain that people with FTLD may experience will allow us to better care for them within our services.”

When the pandemic hit, however, Sisk returned home to Cork to help on the frontline and is now balancing clinical work with her PhD studies and her business. She admitted that her biggest career challenge at the moment is time management.

“I have to run my schedule like a small army, and that is OK because it is working. It will always be a challenge, I imagine.”

Speaking from her own experiences, Sisk advised anyone who wants to pursue an idea to go for it. “Ask people that know the sector, not just family and friends. Think about where you see yourself, where you want to be in life and what you want out of a job,” she said.

“You may think that you would love to be a medical doctor, but you actually need to ask yourself why. It may be that you love science, love working with people etc. But medicine can entail 24-hour shifts on call so it’s important to take the things you want out of a job and explore how you can find these in the most effective way.”

Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com