It’s been a busy past 12 months for the healthcare informatics company, Alcidion, which announced its acquisition of Silverlink Software, a specialist Patient Administration System (PAS) provider which works with the NHS, at the end of 2021.
The news arrived just months after the company had made another major move in the market by acquiring patient flow software company ExtraMed in the spring, to further expand its portfolio of services.
With that in mind, HTN took the opportunity to chat to two members of the Alcidion team – Lynette Ousby, UK Managing Director and Tom Scott, Alcidion’s UK Commercial Director – to find out more about the Silverlink news and flagship Miya Precision product, as well as what’s in store for the company in 2022…
Tell us about Alcidion’s Miya Precision EPR
Tom: Our flagship product, Miya Precision, is an open-standards, modular EPR (Electronic Patient Record). We have a separate data and application layer already. Our unique proposition for the UK is, ‘consolidating data from existing systems’ – whether that’s from sites that have adopted a best-of-breed strategy or have an existing EPR, to then layer on our applications, which are intuitive, aligned with clinical workflows and drive real clinical value.
These digital tools include e-noting, natural language processing, and there’s a lot of smart technology in the platform which really supports clinicians with explainable AI and clinical decision support. Instead of clinicians having to go and find data, which is the traditional supplier model, we’re using a model where we’re pushing meaningful information to clinicians or care teams who are interested in a patient, because we’re scanning for changes or nuances in the patient record.
We introduced Miya Precision to the UK from Australia in 2018 with Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust and we also have South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust signed up.
How does the acquisition of Silverlink fit in? How would you sum-up the benefits?
Tom: The acquisition of Silverlink really complements that strategy of an open-standards, modular EPR. The patient administration system is central to the workings of a health organisation, [and] in particular, the trust and health board model in the UK. This acquisition gives us a really strong proposition in the modular EPR market.
Lynette: It’s agnostic to the setting – we haven’t designed a modular EPR that’s just for a hospital, a community health trust, a mental health trust or an ICS (Integrated Care System). It’s agnostic to the care setting – that’s the benefit of building a platform that, at its core, can be adapted.
We’ve built the clinical element of the EPR first – we didn’t design it as an administrative function to start with – and it’s been designed with clinical use at its core. Thirdly, while I don’t like the word disruptor, it is different – it’s a configurable system and it offers of the opportunity for transformation as part of its implementation. But we don’t do it [the implementation] to a customer, we do it with the customer. We recognise that different clinical settings might drive different uses of the system and it restricts innovation if we were to tell them how to do it.
Tom: We’re integrated and we’re not monolithic. That gives us the benefit of being flexible and complementary to an organisation’s digital strategy, whether they’ve already deployed a best-of-breed approach, best-in-suite, or anything along that spectrum. We can complement a digital strategy, without having to ‘rip and replace’ the systems that organisations have already invested in.
Lynette: I believe there’s a place for everybody in this market and there’s a lot more benefit to the clinicians and the NHS, as we work better together rather than against each other. The open approach – which Tom calls a ‘battle of philosophies’, is brilliant – regardless of whether you are Miya Precision or another open system, it shouldn’t really matter. What we are all trying to solve is the same thing, so we should complement each other more by opening up the data, rather than building barriers.
For our customers or potential customers, if they want us to work with a theatre system that they like, we will, or if they want us to work with a certain voice recognition company, we do – we don’t mandate who that is.
We’re of the mind that, if we can’t provide the EPMA solution to an organisation, then we’re open to working with whoever that organisation selects and we don’t make them take the one we prefer. I think that is different.
Do you have much clinical input during the design process?
Lynette: Yes, all our product specialists are clinicians that have transferred to our organisation. We can’t go to market saying we have a clinician EPR if the design isn’t by clinicians. So, clinicians are at the centre of our design team. They’re dual roles – they work with us and keep up with clinical practice, as well.
If standards or requirements change, we’re on the pulse. Generally, we parachute them [clinicians] into customers and they work with clinical teams. We will recommend where we have seen it done well before. A good example is electronic discharge processes – they’re very different at every trust, so we will use some of our experience to guide customers through best practice.
It’s very much about collaboration and very recently, in Dartford, two of our clinicians took shifts in their clinical team and worked with our system in its live use. That’s quite a unique experience, to see whether the way that we designed the system and implemented it for them was really working for clinicians. A doctor and one of our nurses took a couple of shifts, then they came back and fed back [to us].
We don’t just drop in the system and off we go – we drop in the system, go in and work with them, and check that it does work, not as project teams but as true clinicians.
Tom: The other aspect is configurability of a system. South Tees said to us, ‘it’s like having an individual EPR for different specialties’ because of the configurability, it lets them work in a way that suits them and their patients best.
What are your hopes for next year? And what are your learnings from this one?
Lynette: Our strategy is to grow, particularly in the UK market. That growth comes through acquisitions and organic growth, so we are gaining new customers, which funds the acquisition strategy.
For some time now, we’ve known we wanted to move away from the perception that we were mainly a patient flow business, to position ourselves in the EPR [market]. A lot of work over the past two years has been around the acquisitions strategy to do that, so PAS was core, and we’ve also looked at what we needed to develop. So, we’re looking at developing emergency department and outpatients [systems].
We always look at whether we’re partnering, building, or buying and we keep a really open mind with that approach. Our partner channel is extremely important to us. As I said earlier, we can’t stand here and say there’s a place for everyone and that we’re an open book and like to work with everyone but then try and create another monolithic yet modular, cloud-based EPR.
We’re currently working with existing partners to mould their solution with our solution to create that modular EPR and be able to demonstrate that clearly to customers.
So, our focus over the next 12 months is to finish the commitments we’ve already started, integrate the businesses we’ve acquired, and work very closely with partners in the market to integrate with our solutions for that care pathway.
Tom: From the evidence we’ve seen from our existing NHS footprint, there’s a real space in this market for innovation, which we’re bringing to the table. There’s a need for an innovative, open standards EPR that’s integrated and ‘best in class’, through the single front of one supplier.
It aligns with NHSX strategy – the separation of data and application layer, we’re showing we have that product, and it exists. We’re working in a very fast-paced environment and the ICS agenda is starting to form, and that’s changing the demand on suppliers. The agility we can bring to the market, not just for secondary care but for community, mental health and into an ICS setting with all the joining up that’s required, there’s a real demand for that, which we think we’re well-placed to address.
Lynette: I also want to mention the Command and Control Centre for the Northern Care Alliance. Working with Hitachi, our partner there, the ExtraMed solution has been used in Salford to start to design that centre, which is a first of type for the country. The reason that’s important for us to be part of, is to ensure we aren’t perceived as just a modular EPR or flow provider with command and control.
We don’t just have an EPR in our kitbag, we have other modules we can offer. So, a lot of the ExtraMed acquisition was focused on that model. We now have a product that can manage patient flow across multiple settings – but we’re not just doing it for ourselves. The Hitachi partnership there is very important, which goes back to complementing and not competing.
Do you have any other use cases to share?
Lynette: Dartford and Gravesham went live with the Miya Precision journey boards, just ahead of the winter pressures. They now use our solution across the entire trust to manage patient flow.
We also have a pager replacement solution, which has very fast deployment model, and is used in trusts such as Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Guy’s and St Thomas’, and on the Isle of Man, and being deployed to East Lancashire Hospitals. Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust went live late in 2021 with a rapid deployment, with a start-to-finish time of eight weeks, and we replaced their entire archaic pager system with Smartpage.
Because the solution is modular, we can make clinical impact within weeks…it makes the EPR roll-out much smoother. Customers are not designing something that they’re going to see in two years, they’re designing something they get ‘drops’ of every eight weeks.
That sense of purpose goes through our team…we have a highly engaged team…we have really high staff retention as well and a lot of that is [due to] the sense of purpose. It’s the relationships they build up with customers – when it goes live, we really feel part of it – particularly the clinical teams.
We turned a COVID dashboard around in four days for a customer, so when we were at the height of the pandemic the way our teams mobilised…it’s just that [sense of] purpose. We might be a private organisation selling into the NHS, but we do feel part of their challenge and solution.
Tom: The flexibility means we can really solve a problem that an organisation wants to solve and we’re not forcing them to do things that may be counter intuitive to their strategy. We’ve architected Miya Precision so we can solve problems quickly and in an agile way. It ultimately drives that clinical outcome, which is what we all come to work for.
To find out more about Alcidion’s offering, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep an eye out for demos of the PAS in the New Year.
For more Alcidion-focused content, you can also view the video recording and write-up of a live webcast, which features Tom and a panel comprised of other health tech experts from the company, from our ‘Digital ICS’ day at October’s HTN Now Focus.