The Dudley Group sets tech-enabled change in motion

HTN #HealthTechToShoutAbout feature series

The Dudley Group sets tech-enabled change in motion

During the COVID-19 crisis, the Black Country trust delivered remote working, virtual clinics and a major rollout of the Allscripts dbMotion™ Solution, and now it is looking to keep up momentum as it prepares for winter and the NHS reset.

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust delivered “four years of change in four months” as it responded to the COVID-19 emergency, and now it is preparing for the NHS reset.

As the novel coronavirus arrived this spring, the trust used the national contracts for Microsoft Teams and Attend Anywhere to support remote working for staff and to pivot from delivering 5% of its outpatient appointments digitally to delivering 60% by phone and video link.

The Dudley Group configured its Allscripts Sunrise™ Acute Care electronic patient record and tracking boards to help clinicians triage and treat patients with COVID-19. And it accelerated a rollout of the dbMotion information-sharing platform that had been planned for the summer.

The dbMotion deployment included the addition of medications information from the IT system used by local GPs and data feeds from the trust’s pathology, imaging and document management systems, so clinicians could access them all in context by clicking the dbMotion “blue button” built into Sunrise EPR.

Chief information officer, Adam Thomas, explained: “We had the dbMotion platform in place, but we really accelerated work during the coronavirus outbreak to support clinical decision-making.”

The Dudley Group has kept up the pace this summer by finding additional platforms for MDT meetings and image sharing. It has gone live with the Allscripts electronic prescribing and medicines administration system in a COVID-secure adult inpatient environment, with training and support delivered remotely.

It is now looking to progress a project to integrate medical devices with Sunrise, building on an initial deployment, and to rollout Allscripts® Care Director across its emerging integrated care system. This will enable professionals to create a care plan that can be shared across care settings in the Black Country & West Birmingham STP.

However, Thomas said the Dudley Group’s bigger ambition is to learn the lessons of the past few months so it can keep up momentum for a future of using the NHS App as a front-end to a patient portal, digital consultations and other digital services.

“There is a lot of talk about a ‘new normal’ and we do not want to go back to normal,” he said. “We need to look at what worked and what didn’t and embed the best of our new ways of working.”

“We also want to start planning to use some really exciting innovations, like AI with imaging, digital radiology and process automation where that makes sense. We want to keep moving forward.”

The trust has a long-standing relationship with Allscripts; it has used the Allscripts® PAS since 2006 and contracted for Sunrise and dbMotion as part of a ten-year Digital Trust programme in 2016.

Thomas said strong digital foundations were one reason the trust could move so quickly this spring. Other factors included the funding available for coronavirus preparations, more streamlined approval processes and willingness to change in the face of the “common enemy of COVID.”

He said the lessons the trust wants to retain include: the benefits of talking about operational and clinical issues that technology can solve, rather than “IT issues”; the need to positively engage the board and a new cohort of clinical leaders; the benefits of agile working and collaborative relationships with employers.

Richard Strong, vice president and managing director, EMEA, Allscripts, said the Dudley Group is a good example of how the pace of health technology deployment changed during the pandemic.

“The work the Dudley Group has done has not just helped staff and patients through the crisis, it has put it in a much better position to move forward with the information sharing and integrated care agendas that the NHS wants to pursue in the coming months,” Strong said. “Allscripts is absolutely up for continuing with the collaborative, rapid working that will entail.