Setting the Clinical Technology Agenda

Review of Comtact Healthcare’s Clinical Technology Day at St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton

Comtact Healthcare’s Clinical Technology Day, held in Northampton courtesy of our customer St Andrew’s Healthcare - the UK’s leading charity providing specialist NHS care, provided a valuable open forum for clinicians to learn more about driving the patient experience through digital healthcare.

Dominic List, Comtact Healthcare’s chairman, set the agenda for the day by contrasting the airline sector – where some 95% of tickets are now issued as e-tickets – to the NHS where just 2% of patients interact digitally. According to Dominic, “Digital healthcare is all about automating processes and making information available in a more timely and accessible manner. Comtact Healthcare’s approach is always focused on supporting the clinician and enabling more informed decision-making.”

To illustrate this point, Dr. Ash Roychowdhury, Medical Director in Clinical Informatics, and Paul Kirkpatrick, IT Director, from St Andrew’s, provided an overview of their evolving journey from being a paper heavy organisation to becoming a more digital operation. They discussed their view of the ‘digitally-supported patient’, and focused on how digitising paper records with Comtact Healthcare has helped to provide real-time patient insight – facilitating the integration of Digital Care Records, and the sharing of patient data across St Andrew’s multiple organisations.

Dr. Ash Roychowdhury particularly focused on the need for healthcare organisations to have a clear information cycle - beginning with the capture of patient data, and then converting that data into more meaningful knowledge that can be applied to help improve the quality of healthcare. While he recognised that many organisations still saw the NHS Five Year Future Vision was a long way off, he pointed out that he had no doubt that the intelligent application of digital healthcare would help achieve this.

Paul Kirkpatrick then detailed St Andrew’s’ strategy around digitisation, breaking it down into four key elements: Digital Essentials, having a Digital Mindset, developing Digital Skills, and undergoing a Digital Transformation. For a major organisation such as St Andrew’s there were initially some challenges in terms of deploying secure Wifi across such an extended and historic site, but Paul saw this as the core platform for its broader digital initiative. A live image of a Harry Potter ‘Marauders’ type Map’ gave attendees insight into just how powerful a Real Time Location System is proving for St Andrew’s tracking key staff in vulnerable environments.

Again, central to the project at St Andrew’s, was an ongoing commitment to ensuring that clinical objectives were at the forefront of any digital development. However, given the immediate availability of tablet-based digital solutions, St Andrew’s has also seen significant productivity savings. According to Dr. Ash Roychowdhury, this evidences itself through a reduction in the reworking of forms, less requirement for rewriting documents, significant waiting time reduction, a reduced paper burden, as well as greatly improved productivity.

Paul Kirkpatrick then gave attendees an insight into the digital directions St Andrew’s was taking. Looking beyond mobile working, Paul listed innovations such as Bring Your Own Device initiatives, secure video conferencing, digitally enabling patients through the Patient Network, Virtual Clinicians, and the development of the first sensory seclusion room for patients.

A platform for digital innovation

Comtact Healthcare then demonstrated how our Digital Platform is supporting organisations on their Digital Healthcare Journey by solving key healthcare challenges such as: tracking existing paper records, providing real-time visibility of assets, correlating disparate data sources, digitising forms and scheduling tasks dynamically.

The presentation particularly focused on three key elements:

Importance of User-centred design

The importance of effective discovery sessions in the applications design process was also stressed. Giving industry examples of poor design that had hindered correct decision-making, we covered the importance of a context-sensitive design approach that provided clinicians with the functionality and details they need for each stage of the process. We also explained how effective and intuitive digital design could unlock significant savings by reducing the need for expensive and time-consuming training.

Lively Panel Debate – ROI, Data Integration, Clinical Digital Maturity

For the many clinicians attending our St Andrew’s Clinical Technology day, the panel debate at the end of our morning session provided an opportunity to discuss both future technology trends, as well as how digital technology might impact their own activities.

There was a lot of interest in the specific ROI that digital healthcare initiatives could offer. Paul Kirkpatrick of St Andrew’s stated that by redesigning and digitising forms they would be able to unlock a projected 700,000 clinical hours time saving over the next four years. Paul estimated that this represented a cumulative saving of around £7 million.

Attendees were also keen to gain St Andrew’s Healthcare’s perspective on systems integration. Paul said that they currently had over 50 distinct systems that fed data in real-time into its core data warehouse, with a lot of the integration work being done at the Business Intelligence level. He felt it was also important that different systems had appropriate refresh regimes, with finance systems updated overnight, digital tablets every 10 minutes and clinical systems every 5 minutes.

Our panellists then discussed the role of the Clinical Digital Maturity Index (CDMI), which aims to establish a digital audit toolkit that provides a view as to where NHS organisations in England are in terms of digital capabilities such as electronic patient records and electronic prescribing. You can find out more about this initiative here.

Dr. Ash Roychowdhury felt that the CDMI provided a useful insight into the progress NHS organisations were making. However, he emphasised that it was important not to just pursue technology for technology’s sake, saying, “You need to be clinically-driven; however, clinicians also need to know what’s good or bad in terms of technology.”

Thanks to the innovative approach taken at St Andrew’s Healthcare, our audience was able to see what can be achieved when Digital Healthcare is made a priority. Given the Department of Health and NHS England’s bold vision for opening up patient access to health records by 2018 and further technology goals for 2020, St Andrew’s is confident of its ability to get there ahead of target, saying they were on track to reach their goals by 2017.