When arguably the largest digital health vendor in the world starts to consider how they move to a new terminology for what they deliver we need to prick up our ears and at least understand what the noise is about; a Community Health Record (CHR) is now the direction of travel for EPIC one of the worlds largest digital health care organisations. In the same period the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has begun to add some flesh to the digital vision he published earlier in the year, particularly around the state of the GP System in the UK and the desperate need for interoperability of the systems, ie. enabling the creation of a CHR in the NHS on a national scale.
I remember a pre-NPfIT world where the NHS had a choice of GP Systems from a vibrant market, and even when you were with a single vendor there was often a plethora of systems with a multitude of functionality levels available to you; who remembers EMIS LV, GV, PCS and Web all being on the market at the same time. SeeTec, Microtest, TPP, InPS, Torex and iSOFT all with the ability to deliver new exciting functionality and at the same time support legacy and green screen solutions. The move that we all took as NPfIT to rationalise the market was meant to modernise what was available, was meant to support innovation and create a new market place one where a CHR would be delivered. It didn’t it created a duopoly that has stifled innovation removed any kind of ‘start-up’ culture within the market place and disempowered much of the ‘family business’ loyalty that existed between vendor and GP. The GP element of a CHR can now only be delivered by moving to a single supplier base across a region and even then only through the movement of information in ‘old technology ways’ in the most part. What were we thinking!
Matt Hancock Secretary of State said the week before Christmas,:
“Too often the IT used by GPs in the NHS – like other NHS technology – is out of date: it frustrates staff and patients alike, and doesn’t work well with other NHS systems. This must change.”
The move from the mega-vendors in this space to try to create systems that span acute, community and primary care will not alter this paradigm and we need to take care as a joined up health and social care system to not start to drink the cool-aid again. EPIC now ‘offering’ a CHR is not the solution to a GP market place that has shrunk in size and is currently slow to consider how interoperability can be achieved outside the walls of their own systems.
In the same week that the Secretary of State made these comments Sarah Wilkinson the Chief Executive Officer added,
“The next generation of IT services for primary care must give more patients easy access to all key aspects of their medical record and provide the highest quality technology for use by GPs. The suppliers must also comply with our technology standards to ensure that we can integrate patient records across primary care, secondary care and social care.”
The simple fact that our national body for digital followed up the Secretary of State’s comment with this is a good sign, an ask for vendors to integrate across the care setting that make up the NHS against an agreed and publicised set of standards is what NHS IT teams have been asking for since the demise of NPfIT. Enabling patient ‘easy access’ cannot be done at a national level, that has been proven when the centre’s attempt at Health Space and Microsoft’s cancelled Health Vault solution. What can be done though are elements of patient access; security layers, a unified front end and entry point, promotion of the solution, standardised sets of data and ways in which this is presented and access to national data sets and information; but access to local information is best managed at a local level!
The work done in Southampton and now in Leeds and now many other places is showing that elements of an open Person Held Record (openPHR) can be achieved with connectivity, standards and a reliance on the expected parts that are best done once nationally.
The EPIC Systems CEO Judy Faulkner told a meeting ahead of EPIC leaders just ahead of Christmas that
“If you want to keep patients well and you want to get paid, you’re going to have to have a comprehensive health record. You’ll need to use software as your central nervous system, and that’s how you standardise and manage your organisation.”
These words echo some of the content of the new direction published by the Secretary of State and his team.
As a digital leader I have always pushed back though on the statement that IT will help standardise the organisation. That needs to be a clinical pull for standard work not a technology led necessity. In Ireland in late 2014 the Department of Health pinned parts of the Electronic Health Record Case for Change on the standardisation that could be achieved through the implementation of technology. The CCIO community in Ireland understood what was meant here but still pushed back, they had built the understanding that clinical led change was the right way forward and insisted that change would come about only through collaboration and with digital as a foundation for standardisation. This is why it took two years from procurement of the Cerner Millennium system to go live in the first maternity hospital of the EHR system, the clinical team wanted to ensure that the standard work that the system helped them deliver was based on clinical best practice not how the software works.
Judy Faulkner told Healthcare IT News in December 2018,
“Because healthcare is now focusing on keeping people well rather than reacting to illness, we are focusing on factors outside the traditional walls.”
This makes sense, the delivery of Population Health is the new knowledge basis for what we as healthcare professionals (Note not digital leaders) need to focus upon, here in Leeds we need to deliver this as a city, as a citizen platform for good health and social care to exist. We need to protect our clinical, medical and healthcare professionals from a deluge of data and somehow find the right way to present the right data at the right time, not all the data some of the time. A move to ‘data is there for the asking, not the taking’ is what Ewan Davies chief executive of Inidus called out in his new year predictions recently, with permission and with the right tools the CEO of EPIC could be right, digital systems really could start to offer the delivery of healthcare the ability to consider how it can deliver healthcare ‘outside the traditional walls.
To kick off 2019 Simon Eccles, national CCIO for Health and Care revealed his predictions for 2019 to Digital Health;
“I believe we’ll see a renewed vigour in digital health technology and I hope an end to the acceptance of ‘not-good-enough’ tech in the NHS, with NHS Boards across the country taking action to support their staff with good technology. 2019 will see the launch of the first NHS Interoperability Standards, with clear timescales for their adoption, and we’ll see the NHS App being taken up which will start to show us the true potential of the empowered consumer in health.”
However Ewan Davis the chief executive of Inidus had a less positive slant to add on the direction needed in his predictions for 2019;
“Progress with interoperability will slow as vested interests and the sheer difficulty of making it work swamp efforts to get beyond the first few use cases and there will be growing recognition that we need a different approach to create the data fluidly we need.”
I believe the way to abort this gloomy direction will be moving to a learning from local approach, one where we come together as healthcare leaders and share what has been delivered and how, the Care Connect work in Bristol, GP Connect work in Leeds, Record Locator go live in various locations and an ask from One London to truly move forward with meaningful FIHR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) profiles all begin to truly ring a bell for interoperability to happen in earnest. Whether its new entrants into the GP market that deliver this or a renewed local relationship with the suppliers that exist now to my mind it doesn’t matter. What I do know though is that by working together the system can remove the frustration that our Secretary of State describes and offer a joined-up system that has digital at its foundation and data fluidity as its life force.
I am proud of being a digital leader but I think that in 2019, to truly deliver what EPIC have described as a CHR then we all need to become healthcare workers with digital expertise in the same way as a brain surgeon is a healthcare worker with surgical (and so much more) expertise!
First published as a KLAS blog after Leeds teaching Hospitals NHS Trust received the analysis of the Arch Collaborative. If anyone wants access to the full Arch Collaborative results from Leeds then feel free to get in touch, happy to share.
The Arch Collaborative exists to ensure that we understand what the users of our systems really think of them!
The technology industry is one of only two industries that describe their customers as users. Launching the Arch Collaborative locally ensures that each healthcare system that takes part can move further and further away from that ill-gotten term, user to a new paradigm where we have valued customers with opinions that matter, perceptions we should act upon, and innovations that we would be foolish not to consider.
The first time that my organisation, NHS Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust (LTHT), considered the Arch Collaborative was in early 2018. We regularly share ideas and concepts with two NHS Trusts: The University Hospital Southampton and the Salford Royal Foundation. Those Trusts had taken part in the survey and were clear that it was a great way to really understand the clinical views of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) and the way it is implemented.
My organisation has risen to the EHR challenge in a different way than many. 15 years ago, our organisation decided to begin building its own EHR. We released new functionality in subsequent years until it became clear in 2017 that the organization had evolved the solution to the point where it was a clinically developed EHR.
Taking on the Arch Collaborative survey felt like the next step in understanding the direction we should head. It could be the basis for a strategic road map.
Standing up on such a public stage was a big decision for an organisation that has invested so personally in the creation of an EHR. For us, this wouldn’t be a comment on the vendor implementation or the partner development of the training materials; this would be a comment on what we had built, what we had prioritised and what we had invested our time in.
There were no gimmicks, backing tracks, or staged production; the Arch Collaborative just asked for an evaluation of our raw digital ability.
By the time we agreed to get involved in the Arch Collaborative, there had been a number of departmental changes in our organisation. We brought together individual teams and elements in the hope that we could form a super group.
We were so nervous about what would happen next that a colleague compared this process to an audition for the a cappella singing team at university, but we were resolute to know how our voice fit into the digital health mix.
The Arch Collaborative involves getting the broadest clinical input possible to a series of questions about the functionality and implementation of the EHR solution within the organisation. The survey is quite in-depth and requires time and energy to work through. We asked one of our Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIO) to take on the project. The CCIO worked with our digital engagement team to ensure that the survey terminology was anglicized and then to widely promote the survey. In the first week, over 400 members of the hospital team had completed the survey; by the time we closed the survey, over 980 members of the workforce had completed it.
We were so proud that so many clinicians had come to our gig. We were not playing to an empty stadium—they had come to join in and sing about the EHR they used every day.
Our organisation uses the EHR for point-of-care delivery; over 19,000 unique users accessed the system in September of 2018. In the same month, there were over 74 million interactions with the system. An average nurse is now collecting over 100,000 data items a year!
When we consider the size of the audience that the Arch Collaborative response will reach, the throughput of the system feels huge. That comparison to the a cappella sing-off is more like the national sing-offs at the Kennedy Centre in the film Pitch Perfect.
When organisations and senior staff members look at the success of EHR implementations in the NHS, it is easy to focus on the traditional project management triumvirate of cost, time, and quality. That is understandable—these are important aspects of a large-scale procurement project.
But a lesson hard learned and seemingly relearned many times over in digital healthcare is that an EHR project is not just a procurement project. The Arch Collaborative was the perfect way for us to test the pitch and tone of our EHR.
We believe we have an approach worthy of blueprinting for reuse but not a specific system, although that is possible. We are more keen to consider the approach we have taken—an approach that includes the following: open standards; the concept of the geography as a platform for care rather than separate healthcare systems trying to interact and integrate; and the clinical focus we have placed in the prioritization of developments.
Each of these methods has been a major part of how we developed the #LeedsDigitalWay, and we believe it is worthy of blueprinting and digital implementation in healthcare across the world.
Ultimately the Arch Collaborative at LTHT would be a comment on the concept of the #LeedsDigitalWay as much as it would be about the actual EHR.
In discussions with KLAS about the decision to take part in the Arch Collaborative, they stressed that our taking part showed humility, a strong word that meant a great deal to us. Around the same time, a tweet from Damian Hughes (@LiquidThinker) resonated particularly with our reaction to the Arch Collaborative results:
Ego is often a roadblock to your development. Humility is a key to a new pathway.
Taking the ego out of delivery means that we can adapt and learn more quickly and ensure that the silos that so easily spring up between clinicians and digital leaders can be avoided.
The results from the Arch Collaborative are not for the faint of heart. They deliver a complex, true, and statistically sound message that will shine a very powerful light on the weaknesses of the work that you have done and specifically highlight the areas that you can change to improve your “Net EMR Experience score” with minimal effort. Unlike a HIMSS score, the Arch Collaborative is based not on what is in the “box” but how the box is used and the success of its functionality.
The headline score for Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust was a 41% Net EMR Experience score. This is the macro score that sits front and centre on the report. The score ranges from -100% to +100% and is built up from the entire survey. We were pleased with our score.
60% of our staff members described themselves as “pleased with the experience” that the EHR offers, while 19% are frustrated daily. The detail of the Arch Collaborative report allows you to investigate how to improve each evaluated area as well as the headline figures.
By offering just four hours of training every year to every staff member that uses the EHR (that’s over 19,000 people, remember), we could improve our Net EMR Experience score by a further 10%.
That final statistic makes a digital leader in the NHS pause for thought; the cost-to-impact revenue on that 10% Net EMR Experience change is not insignificant, and the debate about where the cost sits would be a long one to resolve. Is it the digital team’s job to continue to deliver business changes? If the digital solution has been embedded in everyday life, should it be a cost of ownership?
35% of our team members that use the EHR daily would describe themselves as proficient in the use of the solution. That seemed immediately positive. However, 8% of our staff members indicated that they struggle every day.
The Arch Collaborative shines a light on what you need to do and the evolution that you need to inspire. Being on the receiving end of a complex statistical readout of your digital agenda enables you as a digital leader to take a breath, look around you, and consider how you move to the next stage.
Computer Weekly refers to the CIO role and its responsibility for the transformation of a system for driving business outcomes. It suggests that the CIO role is the “third leg of the stool” of modern “business” evolution, the other legs being marketing and sales. In healthcare, we are also in a modern evolution, made clear in the following quadruple aims:
The Arch Collaborative provides an opportunity to focus on the aims of the quadruple claims, but it doesn’t provide the means.
The Collaborative is grounded in the quadruple aims by accident rather than by design, but it does expose how necessary EHR capabilities needs to be implemented with the aims in mind. The Collaborative does not pass judgement on the EHR, though—it offers the statistical vision of how to improve.
If we consider the Virginia Mason Institute improvement method that was based on the Toyota Production System management methodology, we can understand how to innovate and improve using the Arch Collaborative as a baseline measure and the evolutionary plans as the rapid-improvement plans.
To ensure that what we deliver is received better, we need to find a way to offer 19,000 extremely busy people a way to not do what they do for four hours of the year! (I picked those words carefully.)
We can offer the opportunity to do the training and learning relatively easily. It is a great deal more challenging to find four spare hours for each professional who needs to use the EHR to devote to the digital agenda. It feels like a budget issue at first; who is going to pay for this? However, it soon becomes clear that it is an organisational culture issue.
The statistics from the Arch Collaborative allow you to dive into perceptions from different parts of the clinical team. The definitions need a little work to map with NHS language, but they work well at a rough-order view. For LTHT, the Collaborative highlighted a difference that we already knew, but the existence of the analysis reinforces where to focus. Clinical roles placed the LTHT EHR in different percentiles of approval, and they map as follows:
The results also include sophisticated symptom analysis to distil some key phrases for us to work with:
This kind of commentary was very powerful for LTHT for two key reasons: first, it wasn’t particular commentary on missing functionality—it concentrated on additional ways for system use; second, it refocused on the engagement piece as an area for improvement. We took these statements as suggestions for how we can do better.
The distance we have to travel on the journey of improvement is not to be underestimated. KLAS and the Arch Collaborative may have hit on something important. If the rest of the NHS spent the time to consider their suggestions, the wealth of comparison data that would become available could bring about the change in attitude and aptitude that digital healthcare needs so badly. Southampton has completed their Arch Collaborative research, too.
The CIO in Southampton, Adrian Byrne, commented, “I think it’s hard to come up with a set of measures to get a good evaluation report. We want to have some things we change and refine and some things we keep the same, so we can measure improvement. I like the Arch Collaborative’s ability to measure across peers. That is its main benefit. We can measure improvement ourselves, but it’s all arbitrary. KLAS has a great record in research and tends to provide real insight.”
That is the key. The Arch Collaborative today, in its full glory, enables LTHT to build its strategic direction for the continued evolution of the EHR. As more NHS organisations take part in the survey, more souls are bared, and more agreement is reached for sharing the report’s details, then we will build a platform that can inspire the next phase in the NHS digital revolution where the stars align. We will ensure that digital healthcare is about collaboration between CIOs and digital leaders who lean into the challenge together.
My last comment is from many years ago:
Forgetfulness is in the learners’ souls because they will not use their memories… they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.
Socrates (5th Century BC)
Let us prove the genius wrong. Let us learn from each other by remembering the past and noting the opportunities of the future with a humility that allows us to continuously learn and collaborate. As David Amerland says;
Collaboration is the new competition!
 The illegal drug trade has used the term since the 1960s and yet the technology industry has remained the only other business to maintain this reference.
 530 clinicians, 147 Advance practice clinicians, 153 nurses, 154 allied health professionals
Originally published in the BJ-HC (British Journal of Healthcare Computing)
A change has to come to organisations perceptions of digital, not what it can do, not even that its focus has to be business change, no; the biggest change that needs to be considered and understood is that digital costs money.
In healthcare we seem sometimes terrified of the actual cost of digital. Digital failure is often related to the cost, the big headline figure is used to sensationalise a failed project. Have you ever seen a headline that describes the cost that going to digital has saved? Think back to the 1990s, booking a holiday, going to the bank, buying some music, all aspects of life that digital has changed for ever and clearly not only more convenient for ‘you’ the consumer but more efficient for the business delivering the consumer need. And then think how quickly that change has happened. The speed we now are at to get to the magic 50 million users is fed by the investment not just in the digital element but in the change that is required, 62 years to get to 50 million cars; 5 years for PayPal to achieve the same and only 2 years for Twitter to get there.
The political nature of so many healthcare systems means they loathe to invest in digital; after all the need to build a new hospital or recruit new nurses is far easier to explain to the citizen (the voter) than the promise of a more efficient and safer digital health system. And yet, show a patient the medical records room of a large hospital and then take out your phone and ask that patient which format they would prefer to see their care delivered on. I am guessing the answer will always be I want a digital system. A study conducted in Ireland in 2016 showed that if every citizen were to provide an additional 17 Euro a year to the healthcare system for the next 10 years then the system would move from a paper based system to an integrated and open data based provision. When asked over 60% of citizens wanted to vote for the project, one famously taking to the stage and asking why does an EHR even need a business case, surely it is like saying no to world peace to say no to a digital fabric for health.
Some of the largest digital organisations in the world profess to be coming to the digital health market for philanthropic reasons, and the sentiments are always well described, none of these organisations has moved to giving away their solutions and intellectual property quite yet though. Global economists predict that by 2030 GDP in many countries needs to double to cope with the ever increasing healthcare costs. In 1955 there were 2.8 billion people in the world by 2025 six billion people will need a healthcare system of some sorts? In 2025 we expect the word to be around eight billion people and average life expectancy will have gone form 68 today to 73 in 2025, awesome figures and yet terrifying for those of us that work in healthcare. How will we cope, particularly with ‘crisis denial’ and a fear of investing in modernisation.
In the last 150 years, according to a Gartner presentation at this year’s CIO Symposium, the healthcare industry has created more value than any other business, if you push the outputs of healthcare through a cost and value system we really do deliver. But health costs money, it’s not free at the point of care! If we link the value that the system delivers back to Berwick’s triple aim of 2008; improve the patient experience, improve the clinical experience and create greater productivity and lower the per capita cost of care, then it becomes clear quickly that digital has to be a global investment point to achieve these grand aims. And yet digital is a separate business case time and time again.
If only IT were free? Or better still if only we could find a way to build the system perception of the value of digital. Even the promise of digital appears to cost money in so many jurisdictions, although I think we could track even that cost back to a lack of investment. To spend on digital requires not just the investment in the purchase itself but also the investment in proving the case before hand, and yet, how many digital healthcare business cases have come to fruition. Please do not misunderstand what I mean here, I am not suggestion a free for all, but, we insist that a digital decision should take a defined and obstructive amount of time, digital moves too fast for that to be the normal that we work to in 2018.
The return on investment needs to be clear for an investment in digital, but what of the new phenomena driven by Ted Rubin the American digital marketer, a return on relationship (RoR). A digital leader in healthcare needs to now push hard for the governance functions they are working with to begin to believe in a return on the relationship. A digital governance function needs to build trust in digital leadership to the point where the legacy of over engineering permission to invest is released to the digital leadership in a similar way to the HR Executive is empowered to deliver a talent solution for an organisation.
Investment in digital needs to be the catalyst for health system transition from ‘Repair Care’ to a truly transformed ability to deliver healthcare and it can only be empowered to become that catalyst through investment. As digital leaders we need to get better at expressing the way digital can move the system dial from simple enablement on to truly optimizing the system to one where digital will have some of the answers to huge issues like winter pressures and the healthcare system can transform through the presence of digital.
There could be a tactic to use, straight out of the Start-Up mentor handbook; ideation of the new value paradigm. A new digital value that we as digital leaders need to describe; a working value equation that can add to, in a different way, the understanding of the change that digital will make to the provision of healthcare. We as digital leaders need to identify and provide for the health risk cohort to prove our worth, oh, and of course save money. Digital creating value in healthcare could be as much to do with digital taking appropriate ownership of the description of the digital agenda and this can then aid in bridging the value gap that exists in our colleagues’ minds! This does rely on us getting right the clinical ownership, the business engagement, the change management and transformation agenda, hence the use of ideation, explain what it could look like when the investment delivers for the patient. Using ideation as a process will enable us take our systems through the thought process that gets it to an understanding of the future; moving from innovation to development to actualisation.
In the EU today we have 2.5 million doctors and 4.8 million nurses, the beating heart of our system and the delivery function of what we do! But, digital needs to not be considered as a back office to this. As we move to a place where the life expectancy goes form 83 years old (2017 in Japan) to an age that we struggle to compute then the equity of health care delivery needs to be built upon a digital way of working or the system can’t cope. Equity of service means we need to balance some hard numbers, the average 70 year old’s healthcare today cost $3,956 per person globally whereas in the USA the same person would cost $9982. Some of that investment (globally) has to be made in digital or we will stand still, and standing still in healthcare will mean failing whole populations of people.
So the ‘call to arms’ on this has to change. Digital in healthcare is the new utility, we need heating, water and light; we need digital too to deliver healthcare. The new ask is to move from the begging bowl; there for the scraps in the good times and a move on to the polite but considered statement of what cannot be done without digital. After all IT isn’t free!
What can digital health learn from the biggest trend in Hollywood block busters, the Re-Boot.
In the last 15 years Spiderman has been through three ‘re-boots’, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and now Tom Holland. Batman has managed even more changes that have brought various degrees of success (personally I thought Michael Keaton did a great job!). Digital health can learn from this trend, a re-boot or two of how digital health is ‘sold’ to the public, the tax payer and the media is perhaps a little overdue.
The cynic amongst us though would be worried of the PR agency spin at this point, but I would disagree. Earlier this week I was being taken on a high-speed car chase through the streets of Leeds, otherwise known as a taxi ride from the train station to St. James. The usual conversation, what do you do and where do you come from ensued (does anyone else feel they are on a game show sometimes when they are in a taxi?) What was surprising was how much the taxi driver knew about the digital reform of the UK health system, but here is the issue; “Was that the disastrous IT project that failed”, says the taxi driver. No matter where you go the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is almost universally hailed as a failure, and yet the programme put in place foundations for digital health to rival any country in the world, it put in the ground work to engage the customer whether that’s the clinician or the patient. I guess much as Michael Keaton put in the ground work for the plethora of super hero movies that have become de ’rigour as the summer hit movies!
Ireland still has its own NPfIT. PPARS is still described by the Irish media as a ‘comedy of errors’, and just as NPfIT it has its failings, PPARS today is a success that can be built on! To go back to the superhero movie analogy, PPARS and NPfIT are best linked to the Daredevil and Elektra movies, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner vehicles of 2003, fans know these were ‘great’ films, the critics were convinced they were rotten tomatoes, but, they now have influenced some of the best Netflix superhero fodder ever to be made!
The culture and leadership of the digital team is significant in a judgement of success.
Building a team is a trick that every digital leader should accept as their number one priority. Without the team the priorities, the governance, the customer at the centre, any of the benefits of digital will not be delivered! Across the world the delivery of healthcare is under financial pressure and this in turn means that the immortal words, ‘do more for less’ are likely to be uttered to you as a digital leader.
When you then look at what you can do less of there is a risk that the things that ‘could’ be seen as not digital’s responsibility are the first to go. If your mind lands on this as a decision please, please think again!
All over the world organisations are being told digital fails without business change resource, and yet as fast as this is becoming a key message for many business areas health systems are trying to cut the business change element from the budget of digital. In Ireland, we have spent the last three years trying to reinforce the message that the projects we have set as priority projects will fail without proper business change elements. The success Ireland made of the first digital maternity hospitals was a success of the business change functions and the clinical leadership. The need to have 9,500 hours training in one of the hospitals is described in some of the Irish media as a failure, what a shame that is. Business change perhaps shouldn’t be labelled as training, I guess that’s where we went wrong in Ireland, the ‘brand’ of business change resources within the team needs to be clearer, they are the engineers of success!
In my move to Leeds I was recently asked what sort of a CIO I am? One that focuses on technology or one that focuses on information? I think I confused the person asking the question when I said I am a CIO that focuses on the people. The need to create a team that cares most about the business change we are trying to achieve; I hope is part of the legacy I leave in Ireland as I begin the handover of what I do to the next digital leader for healthcare, a team that has moved from one that delivers digital to one that helps create business change through digital innovation.
Resourcing any organisation to be able to achieve a business change is difficult, trying to ‘re-boot’ the view of the team at the same time really does require an engaged and enthused leadership team.
How will we find the right people for the right job at the right time is a tricky question for any digital leader trying to create a cultural change. It’s a challenge that we have worked hard on in Ireland. In November 2015 the department of health gave us permission to recruit 49 new members of staff to the team. An exciting time being able to consider how we could now truly begin to move the ‘dial’ on the ratio of staff available to the business and how we really could begin to focus on the delivery of business change. The trick though was what sort of staff did we need. We were pleased with permission to recruit 49, we had asked for 150 new staff which meant a prioritisation exercise and a structural alignment that matched the resource we were now allocated, a re-boot with a limited budget. Not all of the re-boots require the superstar actors and huge budgets though, think of the collection of superhero TV series now gracing the screens of Netflix, nowhere near the super budgets of Batman Vs Superman, nor do they have the big name actors and yet they are probably making a bigger dent in the film buff psyche than the most recent Batman film ever will, sorry Ben Affleck!
How do we professionalise the digital health function though, how do we become recognised as the go to function to achieve change in healthcare. First and foremost, the logic of success building on success is key. Pick the projects that can be successful, not the easy projects or the quick wins, but the projects that will make a difference and that you know can be achieved. Professionalising the digital role in health is influenced from the outside in to some degree, the clinical engagement in the success of digital will build an organisational ally to help in the consideration of what a professional digital workforce can bring.
The re-boot of digital health needs some tools as well as the new actors. The SAMR ladder has worked well for us in understanding where our focus needs to be. Are we Substituting, Augmenting, Modifying or Redefining the delivery of healthcare. Are the terms mutually exclusive or are they an innovation journey that digital healthcare is on?
Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s model gives any digital leader an opportunity not to just re boot the organisation but a model to re boot projects as well.
Lets look at PPARS in Ireland, its original premise using SAMR was to simply Substitute what was currently in use with a digital platform, what went wrong according to the general consensus is that a simple substitution wasn’t enough. The human process was exactly that, not a logical process that digital could be a substitute for but an emotional and geographically different process that actually needed a redefining re boot. The success of eReferral in the last 18 months is because the process has been augmented, and the project team set about the re boot of the process knowing that was the case.
As we move to the EHR programme here in Ireland we know that the whole programme of work has to be about redefining, that is why the business change resource is so important and its why Ireland’s EHR business case insists on the budget and resource allocation for the business change elements,
Einstein’s definition of insanity is perhaps over used, but it fits so neatly here; ‘doing the same things over and over but expecting different results’ is his tried and tested definition. Without a re boot digital health is not going to succeed and we need it to be the next Avengers re boot not the best forgotten Nicholas Cage classic, Ghost Rider.
Consider the re boot theme, build the business change resource and lets get this movie started!
First published as a KLAS blog in June 2017.
Do you remember being a kid at Christmas time, toys came wrapped and in boxes and by Christmas evening so many of us had reverted to playing with the boxes that all the new toys had come in! Imagine your parent’s frustrations…
Imagine if the hospital EHR came in a box ready to deploy, would we be ‘playing’ with the box within the first week I wonder? Once upon a time we used to talk about a hospital without boundaries, in some areas that evolved to a liquid hospital, as we move to the next decade a new idea is starting to emerge, a new parallel, the digital hospital in a box.
No this isn’t a chapter in the SIMS game or an elaborate Minecraft playground, this is where clinicians, patients and managers want to be! The mobile experience has continued to evolve at such a pace that the expectation of what we can do with our devices puts eHealth into a new world, a world we want to go. A world that seems like it could be attainable with just a little different type of effort.
Twice in one week I have been shown patient applications on mobile devices that enable patients to take control of their care wherever and whenever they want to.
The digital Haemophilia support capability deployed in Ireland allows a patient to be in complete control of their care and the treatment plan they have, ‘live’ from their very own smartphone. Ordering new treatment to be delivered and allowing the health system to track this treatment brings a level of patient safety never before seen. The solution also takes the theories of ‘just-in-time’ efficiencies and applies them to healthcare. Just like the fast-moving consumer goods industries where ‘just-in-time’ was invented, this has brought remarkable cost savings and the removal of so much waste in the delivery of drugs to the patient.
The second app is a collaboration between a charity, an academic partner, a technology delivery group and the health system. The epilepsy patient application now delivered in Ireland brings a huge change to the delivery of care to people with this long-term condition. Communication with clinicians is important for any patient with any long-term condition, and the impact on patients with epilepsy has been particularly revolutionary. A patient can now record and communicate the frequency, type and severity of a seizure to their clinician who can use the app to securely communicate suggested changes to the drug and treatment regime.
For patients with a genomic sequence they can now see the geneticist’s opinion of their illness enabling the control of illness to be shared and the nature of the ‘expert patient’ to evolve considerably. In a remarkably short period of time, some patients have been able to come off the drugs they have been on for long periods due to near real-time evaluation of efficacy of the drugs regime they are on and the shared ownership of data about their illness.
When we consider the impact of digital advances on healthcare one of three things can happen; it can continue to evolve at a slow pace but a ‘safe’ pace; digital solutions can optimise what is delivered already, or truly digital could transform the way healthcare is delivered.
The question we are asking ourselves as digital leaders in healthcare is, are we trying to change the way healthcare is considered and delivered or are we ‘simply’ trying to improve it. A supercharged hospital in a box could be the answer we have all been looking for.
On a recent study trip to Barcelona I was lucky enough to meet the team from TicSalut. More than anywhere else I have seen, the Catalonian health system has ‘cracked’ the mobile application and data problem for health, and the way they have done this is by taking the concepts of a mobile engendered Eco-System and making it real in every possible way. Catalonia has built the first box for the hospital to be packaged in! How have they done it?
First and foremost, they have managed to maintain control of the market place by offering a type of accreditation which has significant value to the builders of mobile applications. Their brand is trusted, respected and brings value to patients, by offering a marketplace for accredited apps they have managed to ensure an agility to market without stifling the innovation capability of its growth.
TicSalut have gone a step further than merely a ‘kite mark’ for health apps though. As part of the accreditation process the organisation asks that, with patient consent, the data collected in the app is not only made available to the app supplier but also the healthcare system of Catalonia. A clinician can see the information a patient or carer has and from a clinical point of view decide if the information is a valid addition to the clinical record, accepting it into the EHR of the patient where appropriate. The patient then can see they clinical record and can make use of the information inside the apps they have decided to use themselves. All of this strikes me as a bit like a box with both sides pushed open, truly a system facilitating a new eco-system approach to the delivery of healthcare.
Innovations like these don’t come overnight, of course. TicSalut have been building towards this for 10 years, ensuring that a new paradigm in innovation and openness of data can be achieved for the patients they serve. The concept of the health and wealth of the ‘nation’ really being at the heart of what they are delivering. The links to innovation through universities and academic fellowships are now well established. The apps are always recommendations and not mandatory, also the patient still chooses the app that they want to use. Prescribing an app can take place but it still always comes back to a patient choice.
Throughout Catalonia where clinical apps are used they can also be rated and reviewed by clinician and patient, taking from the travel industry and sites like Trip Advisor the clinical solutions deployed via mobile are crowd source reviewed and the results of this adds weight to the kite mark applied to the app.
If we are to apply the successful digital lessons of other business areas then we need to ‘wow’ the customer. Healthcare has a difficulty in defining its customer which makes this goal complex but, in the case of the hospital in a box this becomes easier. We need the patient that is receiving care to want to be part of the journey and the clinician who is delivering the care to understand the benefits of the information they are receiving, the veracity of that information. Maybe the much used three V definition of Big Data (Volume, Veracity and Variety) can find better application in simple clinical information!
The new concepts of digital allows businesses to become services rather than costly (sometimes wasteful) capital expenditure items. Take for example the work Phillips has done at Schiphol Airport, by applying circular economy principles Schiphol Group and Philips have created a new way of working, a new partnership. Philips now has responsibility for delivering light to the airport, responsibility for the fixtures and fittings and ultimately the recycling of the fittings. By taking this responsibility Philips can offer their most innovative and cost effective lighting solutions as a service to the airport, making a capital free investment for Schiphol in lighting innovation. Now apply this to healthcare, and try to do it without creating perverse incentives.
An EHR service cost model in a public healthcare system, facing the budgetary challenges we all understand, cannot be charged for digital solutions per bed or per patient basis easily. Doing this will instead cause a different consideration; whether to put information into the EHR. Yet, the digital service model can still work. A hospital in a box, a digital solution deployed to the patient first can work in this way, we are seeing this with the consumer driven shift in primary care, Babylon Health, WebDoctor.ie and VideoDoc and others here in Ireland are all facilitating some service model type solutions to the delivery of primary care interaction. The patient becomes the payer for the service in a different way; but in a way that enables innovation to be fostered rather than kept to a decade long cycle of investment.
Service solutions or the new term ‘platform businesses’ are pivoting throughout the globe and becoming new innovations; Tesla becoming an alternative power company, charging home based batteries overnight on off peak electricity or Uber becoming a way of ordering the delivery of vaccinations direct to the citizen in need, and so many more.
The ability to deliver health as a service to patients seems today to be hooked to the mobile capabilities though and particularly to this idea of the healthcare system in a box. In the space of a single piece of writing then we have managed to move from a hospital in a box to the whole healthcare system!
Digital leaders in every jurisdiction of the globe are trying to consider where in the tipping point they are, “are we here to optimise the health system with digital? Or are we here to enable a transformation?” The “healthcare as a service” concept, facilitated by the healthcare system and being delivered in a digital box can transform the health systems of the world! We know that digital is ready but the human factors along with the business change elements, are the more difficult parts to resolve. That’s why I believe the concept of a healthcare system in a box is useful, it simplifies what we are trying to do. Samsung talks about the unboxing of the mobile phone for different reasons at the moment, but if we can deliver, and then unbox the digital healthcare system then maybe we have a route to achieve the business engagement and change that so many healthcare systems need.
The healthcare system in a box provides for our ability to be a multi-channel business, at last the engagement of our hard-to-define customer base can be done comparatively easily as we suddenly have many more digital routes to engage through. Engagement has to be done on the needs of the ‘customer’ rather than the organisation and therefore the idea of multiple channels means we can offer the ability to engage in the same way as so many businesses do who successfully put the customer at the heart of what they do, the box has so many routes into it!
One of the advantages of moving to a concept where the digital hospital is delivered through the proverbial box could well be the ability to lock the hospital in a box and use it to protect the data and the experience of the patient. Recent cyber threats and the escalation of the vulnerability of healthcare to cyber-attack gives us, the digital health professional, a new challenge to overcome. Placing the digital experience of the patient into their own hands provides healthcare with, at the very least, a new level of vigilance. We don’t ask one person to adhere to hygiene standards to enable infection control best practice to become standard, we ask everyone, maybe that is what can be achieved by ‘crowd sourcing’ the customer in the cyber threat battle.
We have had the cardboard box since 1817, and now whether it’s Calvin and Hobbes creating a time machine (or a ‘transmogrifier’) or the gag real on the computer game Metal Gear, the cardboard box is an accepted part of growing up; even the national museum of toys in the USA has a box in it, the only non-branded ‘toy’ it has as an exhibition. So, if the humble cardboard box can become a toy for all our children since the early 1800’s then I am sure as a concept for healthcare it can become the answer to the truly patient focused electronic health record!