Mark has been working in or with the NHS for 20 years. He was involved in initiatives such as ‘connect the NHS’, electronic registrations and claims for payment. His more recent roles include Product & Marketing Director at First Databank.
TechUK represents 850 technology companies working towards the delivery of efficient, integrated safer Health and Social Care systems in the UK.
The TechUK Health and Social Care Council comprises of 15 board members who have been selected by other members because of their extensive market experience in the Health and Social care sector.
We caught up with Mark to reflect upon the need for clinical engagement, small-scale solutions and the role Tech UK plays for healthcare suppliers.
At EHI Live 2013 you mentioned you believe the paperless goal is achievable but it will require a different way of thinking. What will NHS Trusts have to do differently?
It’s important that EPR projects are clinically driven rather than IT led. The clinicians should also have board level sponsorship to achieve proactive decision making.
It is also recommended that the EPR project be a transformation opportunity rather than an automation. Using technology in the most effective way possible revolves around an opportunity to do something different – improve patient outcomes and efficiency for the Trust – not simply automating the processes, therefore not gaining the most effective use of technology.
This point merges with the reasons behind the previous failures of IT projects.
In the past, clinicians have not been engaged, projects have not been clinically led and the end result; a failed administrative IT project that doesn’t warrant the understanding of a clinical perspective. In these cases, the IT systems simply did not have the correct components for clinical use. Ultimately, clinical needs must first be outlined, followed by the question of how can IT support this need?
At EHI Live 2013, the suppliers’ perspective / Suppliers’ Perspectives session revealed the importance of including small-scale solutions. Why is that?
There is no doubt that one single organisation cannot provide all the necessary mechanisms for a successful EPR project roll out. Even the largest suppliers like Cerner still don’t have the entire solution to handle all the different aspects of an EPR. The key is to bring in a number of small-scale suppliers, each providing one solution to make up the overall system. This way, the Trust has the best solutions in place according to the needs of the organisation.
How does TechUK communicate with Trusts?
TechUK look at lobbying and engaging the different boards – the Department of Health and NHS England - in order to promote a technological environment and assess how the impact of technology in the NHS will enable change and ultimately a better way of working. We also publish documents such as “Digitising the NHS” which, when was published at the beginning of 2013, received much attention.
How can TechUK help NHS employees in the next phase of funding spend wisely for maximum effect?
We engage with our members and involve ourselves with the suppliers associated with TechUK to provide NHS employees the guidance they need in terms of allocating the funding into EPR projects. As part of this, we also encourage the move towards developing standards such as suppliers dealing with record keeping – the Professional Record Standards Board (PRSP) which includes all the Royal Colleges, has already published standards in the effort to provide set guidance to health record managers.
The Intellect response to the Paperless NHS published in January 2013 refers to the need for interoperability between health providers. While it recognises perfect interoperability across 100% of organisations is not likely to happen anytime soon, what do you suggest Trusts look for in supplier responses when tendering for EPRs or when digitising health records?
Interoperability is a hugely vast and complex area. However, most vendors will happily partner up with each other. We advise all Trusts when buying and requesting responses to always state the importance of interoperability. We are also involved in developing the need for consistent support standards of interoperability as it appears to be a problem area for Trusts due to its multifaceted modules.
Why is it important that “digitising the NHS” be adopted at local level?
This point refers back to the need for small-scale solutions. Local level means supporting the Trust in every way possible and listening to the needs of the organisation in order to procure a successful EPR which is clinically led.