By Robbie Cline. 11 March 2019
NHS England’s Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme is using blueprints based on the lessons learned by exemplars to help other trusts introduce similar improvements. Here, Robbie Cline, Director of ICT Programmes for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, describes his experience.
By Robbie Cline. 11 March 2019
A key aim of the Global Digital Exemplar programme is to create blueprints for digital innovation so that other NHS organisations can follow in their footsteps at a faster pace and for a lower cost.
Benefits for patient outcomes and safety will be achieved sooner with this structured sharing of knowledge and insights.
At Chelsea and Westminster, we found that joining forces with our neighbours at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust was the answer to a longstanding search for a new electronic patient record (EPR) system. By the end of 2019, the two trusts will be using a single shared system across seven hospitals, which together have 17,000 staff and over two million patient contacts a year.
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was one of the first to introduce an EPR system back in 1999. Nearly 20 years on, it was starting to show its age and we needed a plan for replacing it.
So how did we come up with the idea of linking up with another trust on the same EPR system? We knew there were several benefits – not least, significant cost savings. These include reduced payments to EPR supplier partners as well as opportunities for shared IT services.
There are big potential benefits for patients and staff - those who work at both trusts who will now only have to learn one EPR system and patients who are treated at both trusts whose records will now be available at any of our seven hospitals. We are already working together to improve the shared system. We know we can achieve more than we could working alone, by drawing on the energy and expertise of administrative and clinical staff from two trusts.
There are also some challenges. It is inevitable that compromises will need to be made in the design of the system. Our written blueprint explains some of the strategic lessons we learned, such as:
We also learned many tactical lessons and my top three are:
We are already a long way down the road to a shared EPR. West Middlesex University Hospital joined the five Imperial hospitals in May 2018, and intense preparation is underway for the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital to go-live at the end of 2019.
Our written blueprint tells the story of this process, the benefits and challenges, and I hope it will be valuable to other trusts looking at going down this route. In recent weeks, I’ve spoken to five UK and overseas hospitals who are actively considering the same thing - clear evidence that there is a real appetite for this information.
Introducing a shared EPR system involves challenges and compromises but the benefits, including increased efficiency, better staff experience and improved patient care, make it all worthwhile. The whole project is a major step towards the goal of transforming clinical pathways across our two trusts.
This and other GDE blueprints are now available on the GDE Community Platform. Request access here.