The Roundhouse in Camden started life as an engine shed, went on to become a famous theatre and music venue, and on Thursday night played host to the EHI Awards 2013 in association with CGI.

As EHI editor Jon Hoeksma pointed out, the awards, which are now in their sixth year, get bigger each year. Last year, they outgrew the Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, where an overflow room had to be set up to let some teams watch on video.

“Given that we want to get IT out of the backroom, it seemed time like it was time to find a bigger venue,” he told this year’s black tie event. “Although even this may be too small if Tim Kelsey’s army of clinical coders turns up.”

Getting doctors coding is just one of the tasks that has been set NHS IT this year. It is also expected to deliver a ‘paperless’ NHS by 2018; with just the Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards Technology Fund for support.

But then, Hoeksma pointed out, it is not national targets or initiatives that drive the kind of initiatives that the awards celebrate.

Instead, they tend to grow out of the determination of NHS IT teams to improve the working lives of their clinical colleagues and, ultimately, the care they deliver to patients.

Business intelligence and supporting clinical care

This was certainly the view of the first winner, Dr Jonathan Sergeant, clinical director of the Brighton and Hove Integrated Care Team, which scooped the ‘excellence in healthcare business intelligence’ award for its Referral Learning Tool.

This enables GPs to benchmark and understand their referring behaviour, improving efficiency and so the care delivered to those using the local healthcare system.

“I’m very, very excited that we won, but of course I can only thank our entire team,” he said. “It shows what you can do with no budget, some good people – and a good idea.”

It was also the view of Dr Devesh Sinha, consultant stroke physician at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which won ‘best use of IT to support clinical treatment and care’ for its hyper-acute TIA referral form.

This is an electronic assessment checklist for patients who may have suffered a stroke that enables GPs to decide on the best course of treatment – and to easily access emergency hospital care if necessary.

“It’s amazing,” he said of winning the award. “It’s a real recognition of what we achieved in the last nine months and it’s wonderful that the hard work of the teams has been recognised.”

He also explained the impact of the HOT-TIA initiative. “We used to have a lot of problems with the TIA patients, and they often used to have a stroke before making the hospital appointments. So we made sure that within 18 hours they have been seen.

“We have avoided 20 strokes that could’ve happened. It’s a good example of how to excel in a team. It’s about clinicians talking to IT and being able to work together.”

Clinical leadership and imaging informatics

Getting IT and clinicians working together was a theme picked up by Paula Sussex, senior vice president, UK public sector of award sponsors CGI, which recently bought Logica.

She told the audience she had asked members of her family, who work in A&E and at regulator Monitor, for their views on the impact of IT on the NHS, and they had talked about the impact on the internet on patients, and on clinicians.

“The awards are a wonderful celebration of professionalism,” she said. “We know there is still a long way to go when it comes to getting information to clinicians at the bedside, but if we can capture the spirit of the people here tonight in our day to day work, that will be fantastic.”

The importance of clinician input into IT and change projects was recognised by a new award, the ‘CCIO award for clinical informatics leadership’, which went to Dr Rhidian Bramley, the chief clinical information officer of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

“I’m quite shocked, actually,” he said of winning. “Being involved with [the CCIO Leaders Network that EHI set up to build on the EHI CCIO Campaign] I’m just amazed by all the time and effort put in by everybody and the great things I see as I go around CCIO conferences and different trusts.”

The Christie had a very good night at the awards, where it also scooped the ‘outstanding work in healthcare imaging informatics’ category for the NHS PACS web portal that it developed with the former NHS Northwest.

The portal involves more than 50 organisations, giving them secure access to picture archiving and communications system images and reports. The former strategic health authority funded the development six years ago, and it has grown to around 300,000 users a year, delivering significant efficiencies in the process.

Keith Richardson, former NHS North of England PACS lead, said: “It’s amazing. I didn’t expect this at all. It’s all down to this guy to be honest [pointing to Dr Bramley].” Richardson said he and Dr Bramley would be hitting the dance floor to celebrate their win.

Interoperability, product innovation, and social media

However, as awards compere Rory Bremner pointed out on more than one occasion, with ten categories, two personal awards, and an overall winner to get up on stage, the dancing was going to be postponed a little while.

“Is everybody enjoying the latest NHS targets,” he riffed at the start of his evening set. “We’re pretty confident that you will be seen by an awards presenter within the four hour target.

“But if for any reason, we do not get to you before 11am, then there is an out-of-hours service.” Following laughter, he added: “I am so glad to be working with an audience that understands this stuff.”

Even Bremner couldn’t find humour in ‘innovation in healthcare integration and interoperability’, a category that went to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

It won for its System TDM, a recall and reminder service developed in-house that enables GPs and pharmacists to manage patients prescribed high cost or highly toxic drugs.

Tim Anderson, commercial development lead for system TDM, came backstage and said: “It’s gobsmacking. I am so thrilled. It’s been a huge amount of work – two years of madness – but we believed in the vision from the start.”

Like so many other winners, he said clinical engagement had been essential. “One of the things I was determined to do was to get people on board who do the work to build the system. We were the first to bring patient access to online results for mental health care. That might have been what won it for us.”

A rather different type of winner was Sleepio, a company that has developed an eponymous product that is on sale commercially, and that delivers cognitive behavioural therapy to people with sleep problems.

Unfortunately, illness prevented its director picking up the award. But the next teams up, from Patient Opinion and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, picked up the enthusiasm.

They won ‘best use of social media in healthcare’ for a project to create an e-learning environment to help staff act on patient feedback.

Director of research James Munro said: “It means that we have got a real spring board to the next eight years for taking social media even further in the health service. It’s a real boost to our vision that patients and carers’ voices can get to the heart of healthcare more than ever before.”

Munro added that when Patient Opinion first started allowing patients to feedback on healthcare services online, many people thought it was a crazy idea, but now it is seen as “the right way to do healthcare.”

Major development, promoting patient safety

Bremner couldn’t resist putting on a Scots accent to announce the next category, ‘excellence in major healthcare IT development’, which was won by NHS National Services Scotland for its Key Information Summary.

This is an electronic patient summary that is created in primary care, often with the patient present, that can be shared across health and social care at the end of life or when the patient is likely to need a lot of contact with out of hours services.

Dr Libby Morris, GP and eHealth lead for primary care for Scottish government health department, said that winning the award was: “Wonderful, we’re delighted. The whole team has worked really hard and we’re delighted to have the recognition.”

She added that the project “has made a real difference to healthcare” but “we have got a lot of ideas to develop it further; this is just the beginning.”

From Scotland, Bremner moved onto the Eurovision song contest. “On, into the night we go. It is time to say ‘Belgium, can we have your votes, please’,” he said, Terry Wogan style.

Gallantly, however, it was The Christie that found itself on stage again, having won the ‘best use of IT to promote patient safety’ category for its Radiology Results Acknowledgement Project.

This uses an in-house portal to make sure that radiology reports are acknowledged, and which achieved 100% acknowledgement within four months.

Dr Bramley said: “It’s wonderful, I’m just so amazed. I was so pleased with this project because I’m passionate about patient safety and this is the thing I’m proudest of at my trust because it’s saving lives. It has completely stopped the instances we had previously of patients coming to harm from delays in acting on results.”

He added: “It’s a great opportunity for other organisations to do what we have done and we would like to share what we have done open source with industry and other healthcare providers.”

Business efficiency, Healthcare IT Champion of the Year

Another trust project won ‘best use of IT to support healthcare business efficiency.’ This time, it was Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, for the electronic medical records system that it has created to give clinicians access to scanned records.

Professor Mike Pearson from the trust said: “It’s a wonderful award for an awful lot of effort from an awful lot of people.

“We’ve got rid of all the back records in the hospital, so there are no paper records now. We have records that can be available to any clinic and to any clinician whenever or wherever they need it, even at home or abroad. We would like our hospital to be the IT lead for the North West, so now it’s upwards and onwards.”

And then, it was time for Bremner to hand back over to Jon Hoeksma, to announce the Healthcare IT Champion of the Year; the special category of the awards that is, of course, chosen by the readers of EHI.

To much applause and cheering, the winner was announced as Kemi Adenubi, the GPSoC programme director for the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Adenubi described winning the award as “absolutely fabulous." “It was wonderful to be nominated, it was great fun to have people say ‘I voted for you’,” she said.

“This will be really good for the project and the team, as it shows there’s some recognition for the project we have done together. It’s an individual nomination, but I have a great team.”

The Mersey Burns App, mobile and overall winner

Finally, one last award had to be made – overall winner, which went to the winner of the ‘excellence in mobile healthcare category’, the Mersey Burns App.

This app, developed by a PhD student and two plastic surgeons at St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust, and then taken forward by the St Helens and Knowsley Health Informatics Service, enables a clinician to assess the extent of a burn on a diagram of a patient’s body.

Traditionally, this has been done on paper, after which the clinician has to work out how much fluid to give a patient. The app does this automatically, and also collects key patient details that can be sent on to a specialist centre. Very unusually for a healthcare app, the Mersey Burns App carries a CE Mark.

Rowan Pritchard-Jones, consultant plastic surgeon, said when it won its first category: “This is really unexpected. It shows that a small team can win.”

When he came back as overall winner, he was almost overwhelmed. “It’s astonishing to win the overall award, and will be a great delight for all the people who have supported us,” he said.

“It’s a very simple thing to help our colleagues in A&E manage a major burns injury. We know good quality resuscitation and assessment of burns saves lives.”

Pritchard-Jones said he would have a “little party” to celebrate, but had to be in work early the following morning for a clinic.

Hoeksma concluded that the evening had been a “fantastic” one. But, to more laughter, Bremner joked that by 2018 “it will all have to be digital” – although he was sure that everybody in the room would try and deliver on that.

And with that, he declared the dance floor open, for Mr Richardson, Dr Bramley and anybody else who wanted it.

Many of the winners and runners-up in this year’s EHI Awards will be talking about their work at EHI Live 2013, in the Awards Theatre sponsored by CGI. The overall winner of this year’s awards, the Mersey Burns App, will be at the show, in the Handi Health Apps zone. The winner of the CCIO award for clinical informatics leadership, Dr Rhidian Bramley, will be co-chairing the CCIO Leaders Network Annual Conference that is co-located with EHI Live for the second year. This year’s conference is free for all visitors to attend.