HIMSS19 looks at lessons learned in accelerating innovation in England

With a new Debut Square exhibit, a Developer Innovation Lab or a Healthcare of the Future pavilion, HIMSS19 is fast approaching. This week, we caught up with Adrian Byrne, Chief Information Officer at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, to find out how policy and technology advances are accelerating sharing of health IT innovation in England, and what is next for the flagship Global Digital Exemplar programme.

Q. How is the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme driving digitisation of mental health, acute trusts and ambulance trusts in England?   

A. I am only directly involved in the acute programme. The GDE programme has accelerated the plans of a number (16 plus Fast Followers) of acute trusts. These were already comparatively quite advanced in terms of digital maturity, yet it was clear the NHS does/ did not have any true exemplars. The programme will show that full digitisation of organisations can work in the NHS, and will show that lessons learned can be replicated, or blueprinted.

The programme is monitoring the clinical and efficiency benefits and can demonstrate benefits of an investment that is still relatively modest in comparison with similar sectors, and has different approaches within it, including the large all encompassing IT systems typical in US hospitals, and the approach more focused on bringing functional areas together through integration technology and the emergent open platforms.

Q. What has the programme enabled you and your team to do that you otherwise would not have been able to?

A. Firstly it is about pace. However, there are certain things we have been able to achieve in an optimal way that would previously have been a compromise. An example is the digital whiteboards that are now on our inpatient wards. These are large touchscreen devices, and this has enabled a mode of operation that would not have been possible had we compromised on cheaper devices and taken a different approach to software design.

We have also employed mobile technology for closing the loop on blood collection which only prints blood bottle labels when the patient has been positively identified, and ensures the right types of sample are taken. In terms of pace, we are much further down the line with mobile technology in general, and have implemented a tablet based record viewer that is assisting ward rounds.


Q. How are you supporting the spread of best practice and sharing learning with other trusts in England that are not part of the programme?

A. We take part in a blueprinting programme and are producing a number of best practice documents that are readily shared. We are closely involved with our partner organisation in the programme, Hampshire Hospitals, and are also part of a Local Health Record Exemplar for regional sharing.

Q. How is the impact of the scheme being evaluated? 

A. Internally we have a dedicated benefits programme, but also the NHS Digital team are assisting in delivery of the objectives. One of our projects is specifically looking at patient reported outcomes.

Q. The newly-published NHS long-term plan indicates that a new wave of GDEs and seven additional Fast Followers are also underway. How do you see the programme developing going forward?

A. The NHS long-term plan is contributing to our strategy which is work in progress. The emphasis on open architecture, interoperability and modern browser based systems is good news for those of us who have been pushing these techniques for a long time. Hopefully we in the service can fulfil our end of the bargain, and deliver a successful programme based on the principles highlighted in the strategy. Hopefully this proves the benefits and gives others the confidence to follow, and invest in digitising their organisations. 

The Accelerating Transformation Through Policy and Technology session will take place on Wednesday, February 12. HIMSS is the parent company of Healthcare IT News.

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