The new leadership team in charge of creating a paperless NHS set out its stall today at NHS Expo saying partnership working would be key to achieving its aims as well as engaging better with patients and clinicians.
Juliet Bauer, Director of Digital Experience at NHS England, said having been a patient for six months last year she had been spurred onto take the new role at NHS England because she wanted to help clinicians to be supported better by the technologies they were using.
She said creating valuable, easy to use technologies was key to the challenge. Coming from outside the NHS she said: “We’re different but actually we are more similar than we are different. At the heart of what we need to do is people. Other industries have done it by trying and trying again. We have to be willing to start somewhere, put stuff out and learn where it’s working. Coming from outside the NHS, the risk of getting it wrong for patients is there and we have to be very, very careful we’re managing these risks. We also really need to be better at engaging people, thinking through how we talk to people as we launch new services and make sure we’ve thought through the messages.”
The panel, led by Noel Gordon, chair of NHS Digital, discussed the backgrounds of the speakers, and the paperless journey, challenges, risks and opportunities.
Professor Keith McNeil, NHS Chief Clinical Information Officer, a former transplant specialist who has also held many senior roles in healthcare management around the world, including Chief Executive Officer at Addenbrooke’s Hospital where they successfully implemented the Epic eHospital system, said the panel were working for the whole of the health system.
“I believe the digital transformation we’re undergoing will make life better for clinicians and improve outcomes. It’s a really exciting time to be involved in all of this.”
He said coming to the table as a clinician the agenda was not a ‘hard sell to clinicians’ because helping them sit down with patients effectively was something they could help with by helping with information flow. “What really frustrates people is when they can see lots of initiatives going on but they can’t see a golden thread through all of this and how do they fit into all of it.”
Will Smart, NHS Chief Information Officer, previously Chief Information Officer at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I believe we’ve got a once in a lifetime chance to get the technology to work for the system that’s focused on patients and led by clinicians.
“The one thing the national teams could do better over the years is setting standards. Explaining what really excellent digital care looks like and begin to define useful standards so we’re working towards a common set of standards.”
Mr McNeil explained the challenges and opportunities of Epic’s 5 year implementation journey at Addenbrooke’s saying it was ‘paper light’ as opposed to ‘paper free’ as it was hard to get completely paper free across an organization of that size.
“Big IT implementations are hard and disruptive,” he said. “But at Addenbrooke’s the proof of the pudding is there in what they’re getting out of the system. It’s absolutely worth it in the end.”
He rounded up by adding: “This is the thing that will transform how we provide care to patients over the next 10 to 20 years and we will reap the rewards.”