East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is to review its five-year strategy for information management and technology to address “technology changes and [the] new pricing structure of suppliers”.
The trust implemented an IM&T strategy for 2012-17 to refresh its infrastructure and move towards a more patient-centric model of care.
However, recent board papers reveal plans to review the strategy across 2015-16 so it can “embrace the opportunities from both the emerging technologies and the new integrated health care models, based upon the new NHS five year plan.”
The information strategy update published by the trust cites specific technologies such as fast broadband, wireless and handheld devices, and increased data storage. Perhaps the most significant development will be a review of electronic patient record systems.
The trust’s current strategy is a ‘best of breed’ approach that includes the ongoing upgrade of its patient administration system – the iSoft system, PatientCentre, that is now owned by CSC.
The new strategy means the trust will now review a “number of options and approaches” to an EPR to see if there are suitable alternatives to existing plans.
“The review will also assess whether there is scope to vary our current approach in the medium term, continuing to adopt “’best of breed’ principles, but minimising the number of solutions deployed and maximising the investment already made in clinical systems as part of the strategy.”
The review will be clinically led by the trust’s chief clinical information officer and chief nursing information officer and will involve engagement and consultation with staff at East Lancashire and wider stakeholders. Decisions will be made by the board.
East Lancashire will be far from alone in looking at its options. Trusts across the North, Midlands and East that received ‘interim’ systems from the National Programme for IT in the NHS are looking at the end of these contracts in 2016.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre has identified managing the transition from national to local contracts as a major challenge. However, it will also present an opportunity for trusts to refresh their systems; if they can find the money.
East Lancashire’s board papers say there should be scope for IM&T to deliver “efficiencies: “It is understood that, in the current financial climate associated investment may be challenging, however such investment will help to drive out further operational inefficiency whilst improving safety and outcomes for our patients.”
To support the financing of new IT systems the report recommends that budgets for IT provision be centralised in 2015-16 to enable the informatics department to work more closely with procurement to deliver best value to the organisation through a standardised approach to IT equipment.
“Not only will this deliver efficiencies through more effective purchasing, it will also improve standard operating procedures within the IT Department through the management of standardised equipment.”
East Lancashire is also keen that its IM&T strategy supports its clinical strategy to provide a range of services across the acute and community setting with links to other specialist centres.
This means there needs to be stronger links with social services and other care partners, while the trust says it is engaged in a “digital interoperability agenda” across Lancashire.