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Advancing digital maturity for NHS trusts

National Health Service (NHS) trusts in the UK are increasingly turning to Allscripts to achieve digital maturity. Attendees at our recent influencer summit in London found out why.

Three years ago, two NHS trusts were advancing their digital agendas with Allscripts using the Sunrise electronic patient record (EPR). That number has since quickly grown to 8 trusts live with Sunrise EPR and are working in close partnership to enhance patient care by achieving the highest levels of digital maturity.

Along with several other key markets, the UK is a core focus for Allscripts globally and represents the largest customer base for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. In addition to its EPR work with the trusts, Allscripts is working to empower healthcare organisations to harness the power of population health through solutions like dbMotionTM Solution, which integrates patient data from various care settings.

Clinical wrap: Digital advancement against financial strain

Allscripts CEO Paul Black discussed the value of trust in relationships between healthcare providers and their technology partners. “We have a responsibility to live in the real world and put in systems that work,” he said. “We care about usage of systems.”

Black said Allscripts recognizes that customers don’t have an unlimited budget, and he pointed to the need to avoid “mayhem” in technology procurements that can come from ripping out systems a trust may have already in place – such as a patient administration system (PAS) and other core investments. “You have a pharmacy system – we don’t just rip that out and make you have the Allscripts system,” he said.

Richard Strong, Allscripts VP and managing director for EMEA, added that from a technology standpoint, the NHS Long Term Plan now meant getting trusts on the journey to digitisation. And that is where the Allscripts clinical wrap approach – taking the clinical functionality of the company’s EPR so it can be wrapped around a trust’s existing PAS – was now proving successful.

“Some of the trusts we are talking to are totally digitally destitute from a clinical perspective,” he said. “They may have a PAS, but they don’t really have those clinical systems, and they don’t have too much money. That’s something we work a lot with. In this segment, secondary care trusts can’t get the funding for a new PAS.”

As some acute trusts take on community services, Strong added that they were “working with us to ensure our solutions will support that working into the community” so that trusts can schedule appointments from the acute trust into primary care, for example.

A blueprint for rapid digital excellence

Trusts working with Allscripts are now on a mission to advance to the globally coveted HIMSS EMRAM level 7 digital maturity milestone as quickly as possible. Paula Ridd, Allscripts UK professional services director, described how Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, for example, recently went live in a “big bang” approach representing the “largest scope we have seen for an initial deployment in the UK.”

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is accelerating their digital maturity also. Mark Hutchinson, the trust’s chief digital and information officer, set out an ambitious roadmap that will see the trust go-live with the Sunrise EPR in a matter of months since the project started, with additional functionality set to quickly follow. This journey kicked off with a pilot go-live in two wards in late November, representing contracting-to-implementation in a matter of just months. This, said Hutchinson, will take the trust “from laggard to leader.”

Crucial to such quick implementation was the Allscripts blueprint – a flexible framework for delivery that trusts can adapt and localise for rapid go-lives. This was distinct to the blueprints being developed under NHS England’s Global Digital Exemplar programme, on which Allscripts also has representation from its customer Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.

“A continued focus on methodology and blueprint enhancement is key to our success,” Ridd said.

Dr. Anna Bayes, Allscripts UK medical director, told delegates that go-live was “just the starting point” of this digital journey.

Part of the ongoing blueprint development involved building on what was learned about the benefits and outcomes experienced by customers. The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, for example, had dramatically improved sepsis screening and treatment following the digitisation of vital signs and early warning scores. Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, which uses Sunrise Acute Care, is also showing many benefits. One recent enhancement, for example, meant that a pharmacist can complete a key audit report in 15 minutes for the whole trust, rather than the entire day it previously took for a ward. And in other customer examples, patients were experiencing qualitative benefits that “you can’t add up and show in a spreadsheet,” Bayes said.

Whilst looking to customers to improve, speakers stressed that conversations with NHS Digital and NHS England were ongoing to help Allscripts continually refine the way it helps providers.

The future

Allscripts UK solutions leader James Hodgin said Allscripts was committed to “understanding our clients business problems” rather than simply selling a product.

Part of this approach is about the immediacy of tackling the digital deficiency in the NHS, he said.

For Richard Strong and other senior Allscripts leaders at the conference, it was also about doing this for more than a HIMSS 7 badge. As Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Sir James Mackey put it to delegates: “Patient and staff satisfaction are our two key metrics.”

The digital agenda is now about “giving patients choice of where they go for treatment, using artificial intelligence to help to prevent clinician burnout, using technology to help build genuine interoperability, and advancing the precision medicine agenda,” Strong said.

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