Interview Series: David Cable, Head of Digital Services, and Jonathan Duckham, Commercial Manager at University Hospital Southampton NHS FT

Earlier in the month HTN sat down virtually with David Cable, Head of Digital Services, and Jonathan Duckham, Commercial Manager at University Hospital Southampton NHS FT to talk about HICSS, a leading clinical software solution developed by University Hospital Southampton (UHS) NHS FT.

We started the conversation by covering the background of HICSS…

David said: “The software was originally commissioned by UHS in the late 1990s, to drive the development of clinical systems across Hampshire. Since then, the software has been through a number of ownerships, with each company investing in the development and expansion of the software. Then in 2018, we [UHS] acquired the intellectual property of the software, to bring it back in-house.

Tell us about HICSS…

David: “HICSS is a clinical platform focussing on gastroenterology and endoscopy management reporting systems, that conforms to the latest technology and complies to the National Endoscopy Database NEDi2 standards – the latest standards – to ensure our customers retain their Joint Advisory Group on Gastrointestinal Endoscopy accreditation.

“The software is modularised, with the main core software for use in endoscopy, managing the whole procedure; from pre-operation, booking to triaging, to the end of the procedure post-care plan.

“Over the past year we have invested heavily to ensure the system meets the NEDi2 standards, which has been a mammoth development undertaking for our team to ensure our software is compliant. It’s critical that the software meets this specification in order for our customers to be accredited.

“One of the interesting things is that we spend a lot of time in clinical settings to hear directly from the clinicians on the ground what they want from the system. And there’s such a demand for endoscopy. When we first put the software in UHS were doing 6,000 procedures a year, we’re now up to 20,000.”

Where are you up to with NEDi2 system accreditation?

 Jonathan said: “By June 2022, all NHS Trusts and private healthcare providers need to meet the NEDi2 specification, so there’s a lot of pressure to get all our HICSS customers upgraded as well as support any Trusts or healthcare providers looking for an accredited NEDi2 version.

“We are the first software provider to be issued with the Application Programming Interface key for NEDi2, which means we are officially using the NEDi2 software within UHS. This means we are submitting data to the NEDi2 dataset, which is a fantastic achievement in the time scales.

What has been the biggest challenge and learnings for you in this space?

Jonathan: “In this space, it’s compliance with the dataset – it’s a tough ask, a big ask. I think there is going to be rationalisation in the market because of the development task and investment required to meet the standards to be accredited.

“For learnings, one of the benefits of developing in the NHS is it allows us to have that close engagement with clinicians and run our testing in a safe, replicated clinical environment.”

What else are you focusing on?

Jonathan highlighted: “Our focus is looking at the way the system helps clinicians, and on ways we can streamline that technology with built-in intelligence to help speed up the way that clinicians can work through a procedure. That’s an area we’re focusing on at the moment, as part of our user interface development programme. We’re looking to improve the procedure times, so it allows more procedures to take place in various trusts.

“We’re also looking at developing the built-in reporting in the software, that helps clinicians review metrics and support trusts with that area. Everyone is under a lot of pressure; people are looking for various metrics to review their endoscopy department performance.

What are you proud of?

David closed: “We’re proud of the opportunity. We are a non-profit organisation [so] funds can go straight back to development to deliver a world class solution.

“When we did the business case to take on the company, we had to get approval from our board, and the stakeholders. I’m proud that we’ve established a company in 12 months and have delivered a major upgrade to be NEDi2 compliant. We have a really good team that’s focused on customer support, adding value from listening to customers. NEDi2 is a requirement, it’s a benchmark we have to get through and we’ve got through it.”