News, Secondary Care

Health Tech Trends Series 2021: Digital aims in Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS FT’s new strategy

As part of our Health Tech Trends Series 2021, which is supported by InterSystems, HTN in a three-part edition, takes a closer look at new NHS trust strategies set to be implemented across the next five years.

A number of organisations have been releasing their plans or draft papers with a bigger focus on data and digital than ever before. In this first instalment of the series, we focus on Wirral University Teaching Hospital’s (WUTH) 2021-2026 strategy, with parts two and three moving onto ideas and aims from Oxford Health and North Lincolnshire and Goole.

A trust that encompasses two acute secondary care campuses, as well as some smaller sites, Wirral’s healthcare settings include the Clatterbridge and Arrowe Park hospitals, with the latter including the Wirral Women and Children’s Hospital.

Part of the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, WUTH’s latest strategy release takes us through the changing landscape around care, as well as covering its challenges, visions, values, objectives and priorities, before outlining strategic intentions and explaining its delivery roadmap.

Describing itself as “one of the largest and busiest trusts in Cheshire and Merseyside” and the “largest employer on the Wirral”, the trust explains its focus on population health and healthy life expectancy, stating that “changes in demography” will “demand a different focus and approach to the way we deliver healthcare.”

The document also underlines the main challenges facing the Wirral health system as: operational delivery and patient flow; workforce; quality and safety, to achieve higher levels of compliance with some card standards; and working with system partners – integrating and consolidating services across the providers, standardising patient pathways and bringing together organisations to work collectively to improve care delivery and health outcomes.

The trust’s 2021-2026 vision – ‘together we will…deliver the best quality and safest care to the communities we serve’ – was developed based on the feedback of 2,500 staff, patients and visitors. Its values include ‘caring for everyone’, ‘respect for all’,  ’embracing teamwork’, and being ‘committed to improvement’, while the foundations focus on ‘Getting the Basics Right, Better, and Best.’

Its strategic objectives and priorities were developed via a combination of reviewing national, regional and local contexts, detailed strategic analysis, and feedback from strategy development workshops. Among its focus on overall care, infrastructure, working environment, working with partners, a compassionate workforce, and continuous improvement, it also highlights a digital future, outlining the aim to ‘be a digital pioneer and centre for excellence’.

Within the digital future area, the main priority points are to:

  • Use digital technology to reduce waste, automate processes and eliminate bottlenecks
  • Empower patients with the data and tools to manage their own health and wellbeing
  • Allow business intelligence to drive clinical decision making
  • Use health information to enable population health management for the Wirral.

The digital strategy also sits within the strategic framework. WUTH describes it as a “key enabling component” and expects it will be a “bold and dynamic statement ” of its ambition to deliver “digitally enabled Best Care for Everyone”.

WUTH’s strategy commits to “creating a culture that embraces digital technology” that’s built around four key programmes: Digital Foundations; Digital Innovation; Digital Education; Digital Intelligence.

The digital thread which slots into the development plan runs from Getting the Basics Right (digitally enabled care), through to being Better (full adoption of digital; one patient record; further developing the patient portal) and Best (a fully integrated digital approach to care across Wirral).

While, among identified weaknesses, the trust also highlights that its data is not yet “providing improved insight on which to base better decision-making” and admits that it does “still rely too much on paper.”

Wirral University Teaching Hospital’s full strategy can be found here.

Catch up on the rest of our 2021 Trends Series so far, which includes an article on successful technologies that have been adopted by our readers, and analysis of survey results on digital maturity satisfaction levels.

You can also find a curated section featuring more digital strategies, as well as a range of ‘learnings-focused’ articles such as key reports, guides and policy news on our leadership channel.