News, NHS trust

Focus on improving core systems and patient empowerment in new digital strategy from Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS FT

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear (CNTW) NHS Foundation Trust has published its new digital strategy, highlighting priorities around utilising technology to improve core clinical systems, empowering patients, advancing the use of information, promoting seamless system-wide working, improving efficiency, and developing safe and secure systems.

The new strategy comes as CNTW has earned recognition as an accredited Global Digital Exemplar by NHS England, and achieved a HIMSS Level 5 standard of digital maturity. It sets out actions which will be taken over the next 18 months, to advance the trust’s progress in each of the identified priority areas.

On improving core clinical systems, the strategy highlights the “significant opportunity” to free up clinical time by making information easier to record and easier to find when needed. Over the next 18 months, the trust plans to carry out an options appraisal of current core clinical systems to build an understanding of “what the wider market can offer in the medium to long term”, as well as upgrading RiO 23 to improve usability and functionality, continuing ePrescribing roll-out across community services,  and continuing to develop the Great North Care Record to promote information sharing.

Under the header of empowering patients, the strategy notes how digital access for patients to view and update records is “one of the biggest digital transformational opportunities open to CNTW and its patients”. Over the next 18 months, the trust will consider options and develop a business case for accelerating patient-facing tech, work with the ICS to better understand the barriers to accessing the NHS App for mental health, learning disability and autism (MHLDA) service users, and support the ICS Digital inclusion work.

In advancing the use of information, the strategy recognises the trust’s “strong track record of using data well”, and the opportunities existing to use data in innovative ways to improve services and outcomes. Actions to be taken over the next 18 months include developing new methods and frameworks for internal reporting, working with NECS to develop “improved pan-organisation reporting to support new service models and provider collaboratives”, piloting AI tech to enhance reporting, and ensuring mental health is embedded in developments across regional population health and the trust research environment.

For seamless system-wide working, the strategy highlights opportunities to increase the use of regional platforms and collaborative services to maximise benefits. Over the next 18 months, the trust commits to supporting the development of digital delivery plans for MHLDA services, supporting the development of region-wide information sharing agreements, contributing to regional initiatives including the Great North Care Record, developing systems to support shared recording, multi-agency assessments and care planning, and facilitating infrastructure collaboration projects such as Office 365 federation.

In improving efficiency, the strategy notes the potential for tech to deliver efficiencies through “streamlining processes, automating routine work and speeding up decision making”. It makes commitments for the next 18 months including continuing ongoing upgrades, optimisations and roll-out plans for systems, developing procurement and review opportunities for systems consolidation, benchmarking current systems to ensure future-proofing, and identifying possible areas for “further deployment of automation technologies” including RPA and APIs.

Finally, for safe, secure and stable systems, the strategy considers how “maintaining a modern IT infrastructure enables staff to work with fewer disruptions and supports increased levels of cyber security”, and the CNTW’s aims to be a “work from anywhere trust”. Over the next 18 months, steps will be taken to invest in and update IT equipment, review wifi infrastructure, deliver and optimise the new IT service management system, and continue the development of the trust’s cyber security improvement plan moving to a zero trust and assumed breach strategy.

To read the strategy in full, please click here.

In other news from the region, North East and North Cumbria ICB has reported on the progress made towards digitisation of social care, following nearly £2 million in funding from the Department of Health and Social Care that has been distributed across the region to support adult social care in the transition to digital records and technology.

On digital strategy, recent board papers from Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Solent NHS Trust and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust revolve around ‘Project Fusion’, which will see a number of their services brought together under a new trust; as part of their meeting, the boards discussed the new trust’s developing digital strategy and digital transition requirements, including plans to develop an EPR roadmap and priority areas of focus for digital.