On the second day of HTN Now April we were joined by Stephen Bromhall, CIO, and Mike Carey, ePCR Programme Manager, from East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust. The duo presented a live session to discuss their ECPR programme, following a recent roll-out.
Introducing the trust and the area it serves, Stephen Bromhall said: “We cover six counties in the East of England, 7,500 square miles. So we cover a massive region. We support the better part of 6,000,000 patients across our six regions. We also border London.”
Outdated technology was a big motivating factor for the trust, as Mike Carey outlined, “we currently have ambulance-issued tough-books which are very old and out of support, very much at the end of their life to the extent that we can no longer find or buy the spare parts to fix them when needed. We’re now moving towards introducing 3,000 – 4,000 iPads.”
The trust has also made a concerted effort to align its strategy with the NHS Long Term Plan, as Stephen explained, “we have dictated that we want to be aligned to the full NHS long term plan around providing digitisation by 2024.”
Patient-focused objectives helped the trust guide their tech roll-out and were outlined by Stephen, who said: “This is all about patients. We don’t do anything in this organisation that’s not front and centre about patients and our delivery point of care as an ambulance service. We are clear – at the frontline, blue light, we are an emergency service, we deliver emergency care, but we also need to make sure that we can collect information that is then purposeful going forward into our licence to operate.”
As part of the objectives for the trust, funding digital adoption became a priority. Stephen said: “In the NHS we previously bought a platform to do a function, rather than thinking about what other enablements the technology [could] bring to our frontline. These were all of the key areas of our six investment objectives…the board is aligned with this, along with NHS, who supported us all the way through the procurement and the acquisition, and supported us with funding. We gained digital aspirant funding based on what this programme would deliver and our digital strategy. So, we were the first ambulance service to get digital aspirant funding.”
The strategic objectives set by the trust include, to deliver an electronic patient care record, improve the patient experience through greater coordination of patient pathways, improve data collection and structured data, improve quality from system to clinical decision making and population health management.
The current status of the digital adoption by the trust was explained by Mike Carey: “Where we are at the moment is we have a dedicated team in place, so that the team that we do have in place, their only focus for almost everybody on the team is to implement this programme. And it’s across a number of work-streams – we’ve got the development of the new software, that’s Siren Nova, and we’re working very closely with the supplier, Medusa, in terms of what features are prioritised and how they’re rolled out to the iPads.”
The pandemic has also had a big effect on the process, Mike said: “We have been doing this during the pandemic so one of the characteristics that we have to deal with is that we can’t do traditional training or traditional change management. In terms of turning up to ambulance stations…and asking people to sit in rooms to listen to what we’ve got to say. Everything is being done remotely and we’ve made extensive use of e-learning tools, videos, and user guides that have been produced in lots of different formats so you can read them on your phone.”
Stephen closed the presentation with a summary of the feedback that the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust has received. He explained: “The positive message we get; the Twitter messages we see, the corridor conversations we have at corporate HQ, and in the ambulance station in which we spend a fair amount of our time. From the CIO and the IMT organisation we hear nothing but positivity. They call it a new toy, but it’s enabled much more than it ever had before, they can now see their corporate emails, they can do their huddles. They can do that timesheet activity; they can book shifts when they want to take bank shifts, or they want to take overtime shifts. All possible from one tool, we’ve never had such engaged staff on a new piece of technology in the history of this organisation.”