Insight, News

Mid and South Essex NHS FT chief exec Matthew Hopkins on implementing a system-wide EPR, investing in foundational tech, and more

We recently heard from chief executive at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, Matthew Hopkins, on the digital landscape at his trust in 2023 as well as his hopes and aims for 2024.

“I’m very proud of our ambition at Mid and South Essex NHS FT for what can be achieved with digital transformation and innovation,” Matthew said. “We have a clear digital strategy and a long term plan to make MSEFT a truly digital first organisation. Combined with our commitment as a trust that everyone who works here has an opportunity to innovate, we support a wide range of new technologies, support innovators, and have seen a number of big projects really take shape. These projects will use digital to help create a digital hospital for the future, and serve our staff and patients in supporting reliable, high quality care.

“This year we have seen over 10,000 staff using digital applications to identify areas for improvement, to access guidelines and good practice, or to undertake a change project in their department. We have built up our novel Quality Learning System to its next phase of development, aiming to give everyone at the frontline of care access to key quality indicators every day, and moved to a single, digital ITU system across our critical care units.

“Possibly most notably, we have started a major transformational programme, working in partnership with Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust, to implement a first of type system-wide EPR. This programme connects patient data across community, mental health and acute care settings, and will change the way we deliver care to embed truly integrated whole system pathways.

“To underpin this and keep our organisation safe and secure, we have begun a sustained programme of investment in our foundational technology that will bring the legacy systems of previously separate hospitals together as a single trust configuration. We recognise that having a sound technology base is critical for supporting patient safety, connected care and innovation into the future.”

2023 saw the collaboration with clinicians and operational teams across EPUT and MSEFT yield “exciting progress in bringing services together to maximise clinical and patient benefits,” Matthew noted. “Through collaborative efforts we have gained a deeper understanding of our people, their roles, and the overarching purpose of our work, aligning with the transformative capabilities of technology. We have over 700 digital champions and an active Founders Community helping shape our future.

Looking to 2024 and beyond, Matthew shared: “We will be renewing and co-producing with staff and partners our trust strategy in 2024, and enhancing our understanding of how data and technology can enable us to grow as a trust and system. Through continued close collaboration with EPUT and MSEFT clinicians and local patients, we aim to harness technology to empower and enable clinical expertise, working together to design and implement the changes we need to see in readiness for our new EPR.

“We will continue to show leadership in innovation, hosting as we do on behalf of NHSE England the Clinical Entrepreneur InSites Programme, now as a hub for 17 sites across England.

“We will build on the developments from this year, were we implemented a number of key clinical systems and made strides to virtual working across major service areas such as outpatients, where we have also tested and evaluated use of artificial intelligence to reduce healthcare inequality.

“With partners in the community, we have also developed the first self-serve digital equalities impact assessment tool, and used augmented reality to support people with a learning disability and/or autism. We are excited to have received funding to continue and expand this work in 2024.”

Matthew concluded: “The greater visibility of the benefits of digital and the greater connectivity for our staff will drive further interest and engagement in our vision of a digital first organisation. We will focus in the coming year on digital skills and on diversifying the routes into our digital workforce, as well as raising profile of our data and digital functions, which are so vital to enabling us to be one team, working together for excellent patient care.”

Many thanks to Matthew for sharing his insights.