We chat to Nick Venters, chief clinical information officer (CCIO) at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and also senior clinical lead at NHS Digital. He reveals how bedding in the trust’s e-prescribing system has been one of their most significant digital achievements, why consumer wrist wearables are over-hyped and who he would like to play him in a film of his life.
Why did you become an NHS CCIO?
On my first day as a psychiatrist I arrived to face a community clinic without any notes because they were delayed in transit. I sat there with my blank pieces of paper, knowing the GPs next door were using electronic systems connected to all manner of results and processes. I became determined at that point that mental health patients should get the same benefit from IT.
Within your organisation, what is the most significant digital achievement of the past 12 months?
Bedding in our e-prescribing system and seeing the benefit of this safer system and the staff getting behind it. It was a real team effort which was implemented with minimal fuss.
What will be the most significant of the next 12 months?
We are tendering for a replacement electronic patient record (EPR) system. If we end up with a new system, there will be a huge amount of work to do in configuration, integration and training.
What’s the biggest barrier to being a more effective CCIO?
Balancing the clinical demands of the day job with the CCIO role and not being able to be everywhere at once.
What’s the biggest barrier the NHS faces overall in achieving digital transformation?
The sheer size of the NHS – we’ve got 28,000 organisations before we start to bring in social care. Each one has their own leadership and list of priorities.
That said, we should be proud of the NHS’s informatics achievements and stop comparing ourselves to simpler and wealthier organisations abroad.
If you have one piece of advice for other NHS CCIOs, what would it be?
Listen to the frontline and don’t be afraid to speak your mind.
Who in the NHS do you admire the most and why?
Staff who work on inpatient mental health wards. Challenging work which is often under recognised.
If you were given £30 million to spend on digital transformation within your trust, where would that money go?
I would spend some of it on virtualising our desktop estate. I’d then blow the rest on clinically-led business analysis and change management. I would focus some of that on information security processes at the frontline.
What is the most over-hyped digital innovation in health?
Consumer wristbands and watches for the worried well that count steps, or measure a pulse.
What is the most under-rated digital innovation in health?
Robotic Process Automation.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why?
Night shifts in a carpet factory as a student. You wouldn’t believe how heavy an Axminster can be.
If you could invite three people, alive or dead, to dinner who would they be?
Anyone fun who will share a bottle of wine and good food. Old friends and family rather than famous people I’ve never met.
What’s the background image on your home computer?
The one that came with it, although I have family pictures on my mobile phone.
What’s your favourite piece of technology at home and why?
My bicycle. Massively over-specified for my needs, but there’s some childish pleasure in having carbon fibre where steel would do.
If you could have any other job, what would it be?
I’d love to be a musician. Maybe a concert pianist.
In a film of your life, who would play you?
I’ll choose Daniel Craig. He looks nothing like me but you didn’t ask for accurate casting. I suspect however that Rowan Atkinson would be chosen for the role. My wife says she’ll play herself.