James Norman is leaving his position as IT director at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to focus on his passion for big data.

A former EHI Healthcare IT Champion, Norman’s trust is ranked at the very top of EHI Intelligence’ Clinical Digital Maturity Index. He will take up a new role as a healthcare informatics consultant at IT company EMC.

Speaking to EHI, Norman stressed that his new role will not be about plugging products, but about looking at the bigger picture of data collaboration and helping the NHS realise its full potential.

“I’m going to be working in the big data field as a healthcare consultant on the use and potential use of big data analytics and bioinformatics in healthcare,” he said.

“My role is not about selling the product; it’s about working with the academics and healthcare professionals.”

Norman will take up his new position in May, after nearly 20 years of working in the NHS, and looks forward to focusing entirely on his beliefs that big data and collaboration transform the NHS.

“It’s not leaving the NHS, I want to do more for the NHS than I can do at a trust level and the only way I can do that is working outside the NHS," he said.

“It will be covering the whole of UK, working with companies, and supporting the Academic Health Science Networks to improve outcomes for patients and preventative treatments."

During his four years at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen, he has developed and executed a comprehensive informatics strategy, which has resulted in the trust being one of the leading trusts nationwide when it comes to healthcare IT.

However, Norman still has a few projects to see through before his departure. One of these is the deployment of an electronic document management system, which has proved more complicated than first envisioned.

“We had to pause the project while we figured out what we needed and what clinicians wanted. Our original approach was not to scan anything, but now we have realised that realistically we have to scan something to bring the information together,” he said.

“There was a lot of nervousness around not scanning and it was a difficult decision to go back and admit that we’re going to have to do scanning, but it gives us that extra safety. We’ve started that back up now and we’re doing the engagement with the clinicians.”

The trust is also working through its due diligence for its replacement patient administration system. Norman said the trust is looking at setting out its requirements to see if they fit with the Lorenzo system CSC is offering under a revised National Programme for IT contract.

Most interestingly though, according to Norman, is the upcoming launch of a big data collaboration hub across Merseyside and possibly Manchester.

“We are working on big data collaboration with clinical commissioning group, local health partners, universities and possibly greater Manchester and that’s probably going to be one of the biggest changes in healthcare we will see,” he said.

“The potential of big data in the collaborative hub will support research, commissioning and completely transform healthcare across Merseyside.

“We’re quite excited about that. We’ve been pulling together the strategy and at the point where we’re going to be doing a big launch on 10 March. It combines together the great professionals of healthcare IT and the most transformative projects,” he said.