‘Insourcing’ services has helped Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust gain the upper hand in its development of IT, the trust’s director of health informatics says.
Ian Arbuthnot’s comment comes as several NHS trusts face an uncertain future for their outsourced IT services, following systems integrator 2e2’s collapse went into administration last month.
A number of NHS trusts, including Brighton and Sussex’s neighbour, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, have outsourcing contracts with the company.
Arbuthnot told eHealth Insider: “I really feel for Sussex Partnership at the moment. To put it this way, I’m happy we insourced.”
Brighton and Sussex has invested in a converged cloud solution from HP. Arbuthnot said this gives the trust an end-to-end private cloud system with a stable infrastructure it can grow into.
He explained that the trust needed something that would run applications faster, improve communications, clinical productivity and offer platform interoperability.
“The other sort of issue for us is our existing legacy applications. In the NHS we’re not exactly blessed with the most modern of apps.”
He described the project, delivered by Microsoft virtualisation and management partner OCSL, as transformative for the trust.
Arbuthnot explained that when he arrived at Brighton and Sussex and decided to do everything internally instead of outsourcing, some were sceptical.
“Previously, we have been in a bit of a fickle with IT. We had done a bit of a mix with outsourcing IT and we moved out IT from the organisation and gave the whole responsibility to the existing shared service,” he explained.
“We needed to introduce some robust IT. What we had was so far away from any modern structure and we basically needed to start from scratch. We had to build something new. We now insource the IT services we used to outsource.”
The trust, which signed a contract for Alert’s electronic patient records system in July last year, would not be able to implement the system without the cloud solution, said Arbuthnot.
“Without the new infrastructure, we would never have been able to get the EPR. If you think of how outdated the technology was before, then it’s allowed us to take ownership with what we do.”
He added that although deciding to do IT within the trust was a big, and perhaps risky decision, he believed it was the right one.
“The insourcing has given us the ability to have staff who know what it’s about and know what’s important. They know patient care and clinical engagement is key,” said Arburthnot.
“When you haven’t got people in IT who understand what’s important, you have missed something. Having them understanding that replacing something small, like a mouse on a clinician’s computer needs to be sorted out soon, not in 30 days is important.”
Brighton and Sussex plans a three-year roll out of its EPR, starting in A&E in September.