Milton Keynes University Hospital publishes updated Digital, Data and Technology Strategy

Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) has published a revised Digital, Data and Technology (DDT) Strategy, which outlines their approach to utilising and embracing technology over the next four years.

“We continue to build on existing mature digital foundations achieved to date,” commented Craig York, Chief Information Officer at MKUH. “This strategy will underpin the work already happening to improve our patients’ access to their records, securely share appropriate records for clinical care, improve efficiency with device integration, clinical decision support, automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence.”

Here we will take a look at MKUH’s vision for the future and how they hope to achieve it.

The strategy starts off by laying out the trust’s overall ambition: “By 2026 we hope to have radically transformed our care environment, by linking digital processes seamlessly with new models of care.”

The ambition continues to outline: “We will know we are on track when we achieve internationally recognised certifications, alongside a digital maturity rating that sits within the top 10% of hospitals in the NHS… and through the creation of digital twins, we will set in motion the rapid development of a healthier estate, with data insights from our built environment supporting the trust’s ambitious Green Plan to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.”

Sharing how they developed their goals, MKUH’s technical team ran a series of user story workshops, with the aim to “better understand our workforce’s real life goals and discover where gaps in technology exist within our digital portfolio”.

Explaining the importance, the trust said: “User stories represent a role, a scenario, and an acceptance criterion, and allow us to target specific goals or themes that can be linked to support a system approach to digital development. Through the discovery of connected stories and themes, our staff are given a stake in digital innovation, encouraging healthy engagement throughout projects and programmes of immense change.”

The results from the workshops identified 150 user stories that were grouped into 12 themes. The themes included patient-focused groupings such as patient communication, flow and care, staff categories such as task management and staff communications/experience, and data-focused groupings such data entry, access and business intelligence.

The trust has eight key goals to reach over the next 18 months:

  • have a designated data drive to lead investment and change in line with priorities and requirements
  • ensure accessible, auditable and high-quality data assets
  • have well-resourced information governance embedded in strategic decisions
  • ensure that reports and analytics are automated and standardised
  • have a culture of accountability and data literacy
  • ensure role-based training with a resource and succession plan
  • embrace innovation with a data unit managing the pipeline of innovative use cases
  • use cloud tech to allow for cost-effective, scalable tools to use on fully interoperable data and systems

These goals have been developed with support from NHS England and Improvement’s “What Good Looks Like” framework and are aligned under the trust’s overall strategy.

Six core design principles have been developed to “keep our digital development focused on the outcomes expected by our patients”. In accordance with those principles, new technology and processes should be person-centred; committed to innovation; scalable and adaptable to change; accessible; smart; and safe.

MKUH identifies six high-level programmes of work which are key to structuring their implementation plan and aligning it with their purpose and digital vision:

  • Building scalable, agile solutions that can grow and evolve alongside patients’ health and care needs; over the next four years, the trust will replace all outdated infrastructure and align it with their public cloud to build a solid digital foundation.
  • Developing unified communications to support faster decision-making, enable agile working and give patients better control over the conversations they have with staff.
  • Improving clinical workflows by continuing the trust’s eCARE development programme, supporting staff in delivering safer, faster and smarter patient care.
  • Building data-centric teams to provide advanced data discovery dashboards, ingesting more data into the trust’s centralised data lake so that it can be applied to machine learning and robotic process automation tools, and linking with wider clinical research initiatives.
  • Contribute towards more efficient processing of information with machine learning technology to mimic human decision-making, ability and behaviour by utilising chatbots to direct patients into appropriate pathways, expand the footprint of care through remote monitoring, introduce more robots across all services, and investigate the benefits of linking wearable devices with medical records.
  • Controlling the built environment by giving the users of the hospital more power over how the building behaves, with digital room controls allowing inpatients to personalise their care environment, and interacting building models joining environmental sensors to support advanced wayfinding.

MKUH states a commitment to the use of new technology “to share knowledge and expertise about our individual patients”, to “explore digital platforms to improve efficiency” and add that they will “use apps to develop understanding of new evidence base for conditions”. On the topic of evidence-based practice, they also state that they will “talk about the importance of evidence-based care and of keeping up to date” and will “offer support and encourage staff to write for publication”. Research and clinical audit will play an important role in the next four years, with the trust committing to “increase knowledge of the research available and support teams to ensure that research is available to all.”

The strategy notes supporting the trust’s digital teams and ensuring that they have the technology they need to make their processes swift and efficient is vital to achieving success. “On occasions where we need support and guidance from our digital teams, it is important for it to be timely and hassle free,” the trust says. “We recognise that by having multiple channels of communication, we are better able to connect with our staff… over the next four years, our digital strategy will focus on upholding the high level of support and experience that are vital to our services, with Service Desk requests being captured by phone, email and webform as well as chatbot: solving problems and offering support, faster than ever before.”

Among their ambitions, MKUH shares that it intends to work on ways in which patients can get actively involved in their own health and wellbeing, by “joining of information from across our care systems so that patients can be presented with a real-time, reassuring view of their clinical pathways”. There are plans to develop a patient portal which will present patients with “insights into their care plans, drawing attention to any progress made as well as the positive outcomes that await once treatment is finish”. The trust also intends to “pilot more digital-first options for patients alongside conventional pathways”, whilst recognising that some patients will choose not to use some of the technology they implement. These digital pathways will “particularly apply to the transformation of our outpatient and maternity services, where face-to-face appointments will be blended with remote consultations where possible”.

On this topic, the strategy notes that in addition to championing digital transformation across the wider trust, “technology, innovation and research is seen as being a key enabled in delivering expert care” in Nursing and Midwifery in particular, sharing that their strategy for those departments has also been refreshed in 2022 with focus on supporting staff to learn and embed technology into their models of care. Going forwards, MKUH commit to creating a “nursing and midwifery led symposium to share best practice”.

Click here to read the Digital, Data and Technology Strategy in full.