All posts in Informatics Leadership

#CIO100 The 2019 edition…

Being part of the CIO100 has meant something to me every year that I have taken part, this year I didn’t make the event itself and it looks like it was a roaring success from the photos on social media and the WhatsApp commentary from so many of the CIOs that were there.

Being able to be part of a community of leaders every year that support each other, laughs at each other, finds ways to promote each other, shares stories and battle wounds with each other has been a great way to create a collegiate environment regardless of business area that the CIO works within. I think the key take away from the CIO100 celebration year on year is the similarities that the role brings ‘regardless’ of the business area that the CIO works within.

Its fascinating moving to a new organisation as a digital leader, no longer a CIO, but a member of the team with an interest and a remit in the key items of the CIO agenda I can see now how transferable the experiences of a CIO can be.

I remember reflecting on similar when I moved to Ireland, the way we described the issues faced by us every day delivering digital to healthcare in the UK were so similar to those described in Ireland and yet both sides of the Irish sea thought they were unique.

One piece of advice, if I am qualified to give advice, to all CIOs and aspiring CIOs, get out of the business bubble you may find yourself in, use events and groups like the CIO100 to learn about the challenges of other areas embarking on digital transformation and innovation in a business area. If you have an issue today, I will bet that either it has been solved at least once in a community like the 100 already or at the very least someone else in that group is going through the same issue.

The CIO100 is perhaps the greatest support group that a digital leader in the UK can be part of, a group I am proud to call ‘home’.

Well done to everyone in the list, looking forward to a year of connections, collaborations and having some fun.

… and perosnally from me, whilst I am no longer at Leeds teaching Hospitals Trust without the amazing team there my place would never be so in the CIO100, a huge thanks to all of the team for working with me for 12 months on the crazy journey we called #LeedsDigitalWay.

Super heroes each and everyone of you!

 

Don’t be salted about a problem, be marinated!

The digital revolution will not be televised! Its already here and televising a modern revolution simply will not be enough. The revolution will be live streamed in virtual reality for everybody to take part in!

Gil Scott Heron will be smiling from on high; to think that the immortal statement of wild abandon and a commentary on a somewhat dystopian future will never come true, largely because technology moves faster than the ‘humble’ human being can! The song and poem by Gil Scott Heron is said to be a reaction to the song “When the Revolution Comes” by The Last Poets, from their eponymous debut, which opens with the line “When the revolution comes some of us will probably catch it on TV”, how many of us are sitting by and waiting for the digital revolution to happen so we can watch it on TV.

In the last two weeks I have been stopped dead in my tracks whilst presenting with the same type of question;

… all this new-fangled technology stuff is all well and good but how do we manage inclusivity if so many services in healthcare become reliant on the digital platform we ‘all’ have?

As digital leaders, or in reality just as leaders, we need to humanise the issues we have if we are to truly achieve digital transformation then we need to discover a way to engage everyone, not just those involved in the revolution but those that want to watch from the side lines as it happens. Engage, engage, engage needs to be the phrase we use every day as we try to create a future that has a foundation in digital and is powered by digital capability. Whether building a new hospital here in Leeds or trying to delight a customer of a commercial organisation then humanising the digital change is imperative to success and engagement through digital will ensue once we have delight in digital channels, a truly omni-channel activity for all.

The urban myth or ‘trueism-research’ that suggests that waiting staff adding googly eyes to a tip jar will see the tips leap up by 6% is said to be because the customer in the café feels that it humanised the experience of tipping is something we can learn from with engagement of people in all that we do.

We need to marinate the problems that digital presents people with together rather pouring on salt.

I love that phrase, I heard it recently in a bar in reference to people being nice to others but it applies just as equally to the issue of digital transformation, let me try to explore and explain.

A plain steak, not a great steak just a plain one; by adding salt you can widen the flavour but you will never give it any depth, but, even a plain old steak marinated in spices and sauces chosen together by the chef and the customer will broaden the appeal and depth of flavour, lessen the harshness and achieve a better result for everyone involved. I think this works well for digital transformation, success will be achieved by working together on the flavours that we are trying to deliver. Digital leaders need to seek the advice, guidance, needs and desires of the ‘customer’ to ensure that the type of transformation works for all no matter the taste buds and previous culinary experiences.

Just a note here though, I’m not comparing the digital capability in the NHS to ‘any old steak’ I hasten to add!

Creating the right recipe for working together is a consideration for successful transformation. Agreeing on the desired outcome at the beginning of the project or deliverable and ensuring that everyone is clear what the outcome will be at the end is how success can be achieved. The same can be said for so many ways of working, in digital healthcare cross organisational teams, cultured networks of sharing have been created, but not everyone wants to join in even today in 2019. The accusation of not invented here still exists, the need to have the local flexibility needs to be in place but this cannot stop us all from marinating the issues we face today together and creating the best way forward for the whole system. In the most recent of years this has started to occur in digital health but perhaps not in other parts of healthcare delivery or even in single hospital teams. Things like Hello My Name Is… has created a framework that ensures that the patient is considered first and foremost but our cultural statements are still to fully impact on how we work together as one organisation with the right impact on each other all of the time.

The #PinkSocks world is a prime example of the wonder that can be achieved when people come together in new ways of sharing and supporting. Nick Adkins set about creating a way of connecting disparate people, people who traditionally were not empowered to share, in fact would often have been in competition with each other in reality. By gifting a pair of distinctive socks, by encouraging a hug as a greeting, by defining what ‘heart speak’ amongst peers should be like the movement has marinated the problems we shared rather than rubbing salt on them and the digital health world is way better for it.

Just be kind is the ethos of Ted Rubin as a leader in digital marketing. His theme extends into the realms of marinating the issue too. He suggests that ‘old’ marketing was dictation and ‘new’ marketing is communication and that we need to change from convince and convert to converse and convert. When we set about digital transformation this is what we need to use our Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIO) in healthcare for. They have the immediate language skills to converse and convert that sometimes we don’t they also have something that digital is yet to create fully in the digital world, an even playing field of respect. We need to build the role of the CCIO as a forever role, a role of co-leadership and co-creation; the digital leader role is not to be sub-subservient to the CCIO in this new relationship, the role is now an equal, in leadership capability, in unique knowledge and experience and in position within the team. Getting that right is the new challenge of the CIO and CCIO. Ted offers some more words of wisdom in this;

You have to give to get. No relationship can survive without trust; simple in concept yet not always easy to see executed.

Ted’s # to follow is #RonR ‘Return on Reputation’, CIOs and CCIOs can together create the reputation that is needed to marinate not salt those problems that exist across a team.

If you haven’t read Humans by Matt Haig go and do so now, it will help with this issue too. Professor Andrew Martin the key character in the book has arrived; food sickens him, clothes confound him and he cannot understand relationships, the only person to ‘get’ him is Newton, and he is the family dog. Professor Martin is a human ‘possessed’ by an alien sent to earth to evaluate the who, the what and the why, and he falls in love with the Human race! Something that I think we all need to do again to be able to achieve the delightful transformation that drives us in so many ways.

If you read Haig’s book then have Professor Adam Rutherford’s The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us and Mark Britnell’s new book Human: Solving the Global Workforce Crisis in Healthcare right next to it. We need to learn from how we got to where we are, we need to be able to see in to the future and we need to be able to laugh at our own naivety, silliness and stupidity that occur every day as we strive to be a better me. These three books will enable us to do just that!

If ever there were three flavours needed for the marinating of the issue then these three pieces of written thought leadership applied in different ways are it!

And that is it really I think, lets understand our past and learn, lets predict our future together and do something about it and lets laugh from both the silliness of the past and the possibility of the future, two different types of laughter but two types we can get right together.

 

Its time to get down and marinate!

 

 

 

Huge credit goes to my good friend Bolly for passing on the marinated Vs salted comment, with her permission it appears in a slightly changed manner. Originally the phrase was related to people, those that know how to marinate and those that simply salt everything, Bolly is an expert at marinating beyond anyone else I know.

 

The Long View of a Hero…

The Long View is a Radio Four programme hosted by Jonathan Freedland where he uses stories from the past to increase understanding of current affairs and events. At Rewired tomorrow (25th of March) we are reusing some of the format, bringing heroes of past digital healthcare to the stage to shed a light on the lessons we can learn from the past and ensure we stop making the same mistakes time and time again. Why do we study history? I remember a teacher once saying to me, of course the answer was to do things better in the future!

Are we looking at heroes of digital as an example of the changes in the digital market place for health care today? If we are maybe it’s not an Alan Turing type hero we need (full genius style) but in-fact a mind more akin to Professor Richard Feynman, his famous four productivity strategies included;

  • Stop trying to know-it-all
  • Don’t worry about what others are thinking
  • Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do.
  • Have a sense of humour and talk honestly.
  • Tomorrow’s heroes live on stage have been Feynman-esque in their approaches over the years.

 The Feynman way of working may be the best approach for leadership in the digital health and care arena that we could adopt.

“The only way to deep happiness is to do something you love to the best of your ability.”

And the heroes of digital health that take to the stage with me tomorrow are the embodiment of that quote. Professor Gwyn Thomas, Andy Williams and Beverley Bryant all overachieved (and continue to be huge parts of) the grand digital healthcare plan. They also applied the Feynman further principles of trusting in knowledge through teaching and taking others on a journey with them and trusting in people as friends and colleagues, not as competitors and antagonists.

Trying to shape the face of the next hero of digital health care is a challenge. We could try to use the Hasbro game Guess Who to create the ‘picture’ of the new hero we all need to step up to the front. Does it feel like the change is just about to come over the hill though with NHS X and a minister and team that seem to ‘get it’ so maybe we don’t need a Guess Who, more a guess how!

Although a hill that today has hidden Brexit shaped traps that could scupper all of our ideas and plans. We need that Long View vision of the future enabled by the lessons of the past to truly give us the blueprint we strive for. When we came up with the game we had a long list of the digital heroes of the past that we wanted on stage, Richard Grainger, Katie Davies, Nigel Bell, Gordon Hextall and Tim Kelsey all made that long list, but hero is a strong word and not everyone could agree to be on stage described as a hero.

“… but we’ve always done it like that!”

In Ireland, as Chief Information Officer I pushed hard for the removal of the culture of not trying something new. I even asked that the council of Chief Clinical Information Officers adopt the famous quote from US Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper’s as their vision statement in year one,

“The most dangerous phrase in the English language; we’ve always done it that way!” became a way of trying every day to change the paradigm, a way of simply pushing harder to do something differently, sometimes simply because it is different it worked.

Looking to the past does not mean do it like that again, it means consider what happened, learn what needed to be done to get it right and avoid the mistakes that were made. We are rightly so concentrating on blueprinting the success at the moment, we do need to be careful not create one size will automatically fit all environment. My heroes of the past in digital and business didn’t simply take the blueprint and press copy, they tried hard to reapply with the lessons they learnt and make sure others could see how to apply and learn next.

My heroes from my reality today include; Tony O’Brien for his calm considered leadership. Jonathan Sheffield for his vision and steadfast refusal to take second best. Russ Branzell for demonstrating compassion as a leadership trait in the face of global influence. Kevin Holland for showing that expertise is a leadership trait best served shared. Gwyn Thomas for delivering the most inclusive organisational change a person could experience. Carrie Armitage for ensuring that the team around the leader is the most important. Phil Randles for never guarding his knowledge. Rachel Dunscombe for being all of our Messi. Andy Kinnear for leading us from the dark ages to the light. Molly Gilmartin for bringing an approach to innovation that others are just too frightened of. Gary Venchuk for teaching me when to swear appropriately. Ted Rubin for inspiring magical thinking on reputational importance. Amy Freeman for taking knowledge and constantly learning more with a goal of doing better. Sarah Moorhead for caring so much about the next person in the queue and frantically finding a way to take them with her. Dan and Chip Heath for delivering the most amazing stories and Frank Buyendijk for being my own stage presence inspiration.

Then I consider the Leeds team I am part of now and know as I look around we have a group of people that embody the long view in everything they do, a Chief Executive, an Exec, a Chair a team of digital professionals like none I have been able to work with before supporting a clinical team who learn lessons and apply them every day and can and will deliver with the patient at the centre of every moment of the day.

Heroes from a different reality and how the impact on our style is interesting as we head to London for two days of being Rewired. Seeing old faces is always a new inspiration and that’s whether we are laughing together in a social environment or listening intently to the latest story Rewired will bring us together for the first time in 2019 as a group of professionals who know how to do this, we just need to collectively move the blockers out of the way. The nations CCIO Dr Simon Eccles will undoubtedly remind us why we need to do this and why we need to do it in a better way, no jam for tomorrow but the reality of today.

Heroes of tomorrow, aspirational people who we know we can follow, stand up at Rewired and be counted because inspiring the next generation should be all of our most important job!

We could be heroes, just for one day, (or maybe at least the two days of Rewired)!

 

The Shades of Grey IT.

What is one of the most wicked problems in large organisations seriously adopting digital today? Many digital leaders would say it’s the challenge that Grey IT brings, and then some board members would turn to them and say what is Grey IT?

Digital functions the world over have adopted a multitude of phrases to describe a core issue that manifests in many ways and for many reasons. Grey IT is ultimately the organisation voting with its feet (or its projects) and buying and implementing technology without going through any digital function or digital governance. It’s a problem with its genesis in technology teams not meeting customer demands and the consumerisation of technology. There is an element of being careful what you wish for. In the 1990s technology leaders bemoaned their business functions for not being engaged in digital transformation, often the National Programme for IT and its perceived ‘failure’ within the NHS is accredited to the lack of business engagement; and now here we are a decade later complaining that the business is so engaged in digital solutions that they can deliver this stuff without digital teams getting involved.

The management training catch phrase of the 1980s, “Don’t bring my problems bring me solutions” needs to be turned on its head, when the business has an issue the ask now needs to be; “Come to me with your problem and lets together come to a solution for it.” This will be a first step to avoiding the Grey IT issue getting any worse, but once instigated the digital function now needs to be able to react to all the issues that are brought to the door, quickly, and in an agile manner that truly delivers on defined customer needs.

I propose that Grey IT is often so rife in large public-sector organisations because of two key reasons; a capacity to keep up with the now consumerised technology delivery that is possible and an often-backward view of innovation that comes from the business by digital professionals. The expectation that digital innovation can only come from those within technology rather than those at the cutting edge of business delivery has to be reconsidered by us, the digital leadership of any organisation! Sometimes the customer does truly know best!

We must combat these two root causes of this if we are to remove the negative outcomes of Grey IT’s existence. Technology outside of a decent governance capability is ultimately dangerous for business and healthcare delivery in particular. Grey IT does just that, delivers a layer of technology that does not have any governance to it. The real manifestation of Grey IT in the NHS today is often seen 12 months after the initial project go live, when the bill for the second year of the licence arrives or the need to upgrade becomes obvious and the technology professionals are called to assist. Worse still Grey IT becomes clear the day the system built, supported, procured and run outside of IT doesn’t work anymore, suddenly Grey IT falls back to its base colours, black and white, whose problem is it and who is going to fix it!

My organisation has been on the receiving end of one of the worst outcomes of Grey IT, many years ago we suffered a significant outage in the digital systems that were used in the Pathology Lab. Whilst the solution had been bought through a governed and appropriate manner it had not been taken into the technology team within the trust it had been developed, evolved and supported by keen and enthusiastic users, but a workforce that had moved on, had a higher priority (patient care) or simply had forgotten how to do stuff was left supporting a solution that was on legacy infrastructure. So when a server went pop, a disc array went AWOL and a back-up was missing disaster struck. This is all stuff the good book ITIL teaches digital professionals to avoid, but once the grey mist has descended upon it even the good book couldn’t help! All that the technology team could do in this case was take control of the recovery and work hard to ensure that the right lessons had been learnt and applied to the future.

I think we are looking at a plethora of different types of Grey IT that all need a different solution; Feral IT Guerrilla IT, Shadow IT and traditional Grey IT.

Feral IT for me starts as a digitally led project often a collaboration, an exciting chance for the digital team and the ‘business’ to work together to come up with a solution. It gains ground as it delivers benefit but slowly drifts away from good governance, often because the project is so successful. Over time though the project will grow and its delivery focus and the team will change, as that happens the digital governance of the organisation can break down and the project is then being delivered outside the parameters of good governance.

The key to making Feral IT work is to ensure that the governance of the project is grounded in the foundations of the digital agenda, organisations are often looking for agility and a start-up culture to enable innovation to happen, but innovation becomes scalable only when a rigour of governance is applied. As digital leaders we should try to encourage the agility that this type of project culture offers, but it is also our role to ensure that the foundations of decision making and corporate risk management are clearly understood. It is tricky in a new decade where digital is a consumerised product, building an understanding of why we the digital function of an organisation needs to be continually part of the decision making in this kind of project can only be achieved with the right style of engagement, one that at least can light a candle next to the consumer style digital capability now available to everyone.

Guerrilla  IT is a phrase that best describes the technology project that has been actively hidden from an organisations digital team, a project that has wilfully been created outside of governance for so many possible reasons. Guerrilla warfare was a phrase first coined in 1808 to describe the Spanish resistance to Napoleon, Guerrilla IT is an identified need that a team has understood and has been unable to get help with the delivery of, at this point the business function decides to go ‘rogue’ and deliver it anyway.

In the NHS today Guerrilla IT exists for many reasons but I would suggest the key reason is an inability to make the national solutions that have been delivered work in the way that locality needs them to. When we have Guerrilla IT projects we need to understand why they exist, much of the reason will often be traceable back to the nature of the solution being sought by the business to the problem and the digital functions inability to react in a way that achieves the desired outcome. The use of WhatsApp in the NHS is possibly the best example of a Guerrilla IT project, organisations have been saying for more than five years that this platform should not really be used inside a healthcare environment, and yet every day that I am in Leeds I see and hear of staff using it in ways we have actively said it shouldn’t be used. Why, because it achieves a need, it is easy to use and it’s a consumer product, and in reality, alternatives to its use are very new to the digital fabric of healthcare. The same could be said for ERS, there is a desperate need fro the NHS wide booking system to offer a ‘many to many’ booking capability, hospitals refer to hospitals! And yet it doesn’t and therefore department after department has its own growing digital solution to enable the digital transfer of information about patients moving from hospital to hospital, we have to fix this!

Shadow IT manifests often from the digital team, when disagreement exists in strategic direction, standards to be adopted or simply in the procurement of a system. Digital professionals can be a real pain, we all know best, we all know our subject matter and sometimes this can boil over into a Shadow IT project. A project that is delivered against the wishes of the governed decision and with an intention to compete with a decision made. Shadow IT will often be kicked off with good intentions; a project just in case the agreed and governed solution misses a deadline or as a risk mitigation to functionality delivery, but sometimes the project is started because it is a ‘pet project’ of a leader of the organisation, digital or otherwise. Shadow IT can be a useful mitigation to risk, but needs the same level of governance,  risk management and rigour applied, it needs to be managed as a project that has goal of being there just in case and should not be tolerated as a vanity project because someone with the digital function is unhappy with a technology decision that has been taken.

Grey IT becomes the collective term for these issues, all shades of grey, successful in some ways in delivering user defined need but with risks to the business that need to be quantified and mitigated against. Removing Grey IT has already become one of the wicked problems, maybe we should accept that we can’t remove Grey IT from what we do, but we should look to understand where it is, why it is and what the risks are to us. There is also an element now of learning from the collective Grey IT projects and understanding better how to avoid them starting up, and that I think is about understanding the investment decisions that are required to initiate a digital project and the engagement needed to enlighten everyone in decisions being taken.

Investment and the return it brings has to be part of the equation in the answer to the ever-present Grey IT problem. Investment in infrastructure for healthcare needs to have a digital element in the same way as the investment decision would call for electricity, heating and light. In 2015 KPMG Ireland called out the need for the fourth ‘utility’ for the building of the National Children’s hospital in Dublin to be digital, it wasn’t, and we now see a furore in the media as the whole digital backbone of a brand new hospital is going over budget because its digital element was expected by decision makers to be run as a Grey IT project. Misunderstanding or on purpose I am still not sure but I do know that the digital team across the project, the ‘centre’ and the department were clear that the hospital had to be a digital hospital and yet the return on that investment was not judged to be worthwhile capturing properly and openly, IT costs money, when will we learn!

We are asked to consider the Return on Investment (ROI) that digital makes when we build a case for spend, perhaps the key to removing the plight that is Grey IT from digital health care could be to start to consider a different set of terms more strongly, what if we considered the Value on Investment (VOI) instead? Let’s not pretend anymore that investment in digital in healthcare anywhere in the world will ever return money back to anyone’s budget, capacity and demand are so ‘topsey turvey’ right now that no amount of digital innovation will return investment, what it will do though is increase efficiency to bring us closer to the demand need, increase quality to bring us closer to the required need and bring a new interest back to the daily roles to deliver a new enthusiasm for what we do. If we all consider the VOI together then just maybe no one would want to set up their own little Grey IT project anymore because we would all be heading towards the same increased value curve.

So we move from ROI to VOI and start to build the case for change in a different way, we still are missing a piece of the colourful puzzle that will be laid over the top of Grey IT though. Return on Reputation (ROR) was a phrase I first heard uttered by Ted Rubin a digital marketing expert and social media evangelist, Ted suggests that the way to building reputation is by building the network of believers and doing this by being ‘nice’. Quite an American ‘thing’ to want to do I guess but there is something in this I think. Digital functions all over the NHS have not adopted any form of ‘Del Monte’ attitude, we are quick to say no, we are quick to say get in line we have a prioritisation process you know! When we do this without listening, we do two things, we set the preference for our customers to understand that its quicker to ‘go elsewhere’ and that we are not part of the team, we are ‘another’ corporate function, maybe even an overhead, with our own benefit blocking agenda. If we adopt Ted’s principles then we should be more open to listen, more transparent in what we will do once we have listened and allow the ‘business’ to work with us to decide what to do first, second and third. The return we would all then get from this is an improvement in the reputation we have.

Grey IT is here now and no matter how big your One IT (insert other corporate programme name here!) is that you are instigating to remove it you won’t without attitude and aptitude change in the digital functions of healthcare. Change is hard to make happen but we have to make it happen, as a journey we are on not as a demand dictated to the system we can become one transformation function for the NHS.

Bring out the problems, let’s work together to create new ideas to solve them and then lets seek the right way of describing the investment and the way we are all going to deliver this together, let’s create joint solutions to problems we consider to be joint as well.

Somehow let’s make digital first be a way of working together that is about innovating for the future not simply concentrating on tomorrow.

 

 

NB If you ever see Ted Rubin on an agenda at an event you are at, go and see him speak, one of the most inspiring speakers I have ever had the joy of seeing, he changed my outlook and I still quote him years later, ‘just be nice!’

Twelve month school report…

Do you remember that school report moment, that evaluation and review of the academic year, the fear of what your teachers would say, or not say when your parents went to meet them? A year of hard work distilled to a 45 minute meeting with a bunch of teachers who, in some cases, were probably trying to provide feedback to maybe as many as 100 kids who had various degrees of motivation and ambition. It must have been a hard task for them and it was often a nerve wrecking experience for the pupil!

Key phrases from my school reports: ‘creative writing doesn’t always mean making it up as you go along!’; ‘Please follow the rules of emergency air supply on an aeroplane, secure your own work before turning to help others’; ‘Less communicating and more concentrating will bring more academic rewards, but will make the class a dull class’; ‘Richard’s passion for campanology outweighs any I have ever seen in any teenager’. The last one holds a dear memory for me as a retort from my Dad, who exclaimed he knew I liked camping but thought I wasn’t the only one in school in scouts!

So, a year into the role in sunny Leeds, a year in to concentrating in a new way on what a digital fabric can do for health and care across Leeds and I thought it would be good to try to put together my own school report. A progressive ‘school’ like Leeds would allow the pupils to put together their own review as long as it could be challenged in a fair and productive manner by teachers and peers, so here goes.

First subject to be graded has to be Delivery. I think the #LeedsDigitalWay deserves a B- for delivery in the last 12 months.

Delivery Grade – B-

The first 100 days saw a sea change in the way the team worked. The objectives of what we wanted to do were made clear and the team began to evolve. The ‘simple’ action of getting board approval to invest in the PPM+ solution as the Electronic Health Record (EHR) for Leeds until at least 2022 has seen a new concentration on the process for delivery. Leeds has delivered against an agile methodology for over five years but now delivers on a monthly release schedule; new functionality defined by the clinical team lands into live each month. A new focus on the release function and now the way that test, development and integration work together has brought about some immediately noticeable changes, largely the enthusiasm and engagement that the clinical team has for the solution has improved significantly.

Deliverables such as the A&E dashboard, flu reporting, tasks and jobs inside the EHR, the implementation of Forward, the delivery of the eRespect form, Nursing eObervations, single sign-on for all and even simple changes like the opening of the internet to ‘real’ use has seen a continuation of the acceptance that digital is a hugely important part of what a hospital needs in place every single day.

Scan for Safety and the mobile EHR solution are fast becoming a way of life in Leeds. Not new gizmos but a way to enable the understanding of patient flow and a way of capturing information without fingers being needed on a keyboard. Scan for Safety also is an illustration of LTHT-wide partnership working and what can be achieved when a delivery is led not by IT but by clinicians and key impacted departments.

The delivery of new infrastructure for PACS, Digital Pathology and the new Genomics service all considered to be that unfortunate term, ‘back office’ deliverables, but all crucial to the acceptable running of the digital fabric of the trust are well underway with a limited resource to make them happen.

A slow but steady reform of the way service management is delivered has started to take shape as has a new way of thinking for Information and Intelligence (I&I). The organisational change elements are now in place to enable a function within the I&I capability to focus ‘just’ on data within PPM+, something LTHT has been trying to make happen for some time.

Why the dropped marks in this area? Expectations have been set really very high and whilst the resource to deliver has been changed in its structure it hasn’t changed in its capacity in any dramatic manner. A phrase I think should be avoided has been used too often: ‘do more for less’. Outages have occurred on three occasions, all managed well with no patient impact but in all three cases these outages could have been avoided. On the positive side, key lessons have been learnt and business continuity lessons and disaster recovery plans are now well honed.

When in Ireland I was once challenged by a senior member of the team to spend a few months in the garden shed away from the team and the email. The meaning behind the comment was I was pushing at a speed that the team needed a rest from. I think I drop marks for not learning that lesson as well as I could have. We are going at a pace in LTHT that will tire the team out if I am not super careful in 2019 and therefore I do need to look around and be sure that the delivery ambition we have is met by the resource we can apply.

Culture Grade – B

Building the team I want to work in is always important to me in any leadership role that I have had. Putting in place weekly updates (Can you give me two minutes) and hitting these for 52 weeks in a row has been an important way to show the width of the team how we can act as one. The creation of the #LeedsDigitalWay and the associated goals, vision statement and key strategic plans have not been created in isolation by the senior management team but, following the ethos of the Leeds Way, these have been done through crowd sourcing and via the wonderful ‘Very Clear Ideas’ process.

I feel the team is engaged, not entirely, but better than many would be in the ideals of what we are here to deliver. That is largely because the LTHT culture, the Leeds Way, gives me a jump off point that I can simply add to, but this has to be seen as a great benefit.

The whole team has had the opportunity to come together four times in 2017/18 as a digital team of leaders in the digital health environment. The meeting is not mandated (nor will it ever be) and has seen a steady increase in numbers for each gathering. One of the best moments of the year was the morning after the third All Staff Meeting being stopped by another early riser member of staff to be told they had put the next meeting in the diary already and would be telling all their colleagues how important the meeting was for working in the team – superb, immediate and honest feedback.

It is often joked that only those ‘great places to work’ organisations get IT and Communications right all the time. We have tried to get the level of communications right but in a recent staff survey the team wished for more, so now we move to consider all the different styles of communications we have and how they impact upon the culture.

To me the Leeds Way is our culture and our values with a digital ‘sheen’ applied to it. We have come some way in 12 months but I can see the gaps that we need to improve on.

The reason for some of the ‘dropped marks’? We are going through organisational change and are desperately trying to get that right at every juncture, but we haven’t always been as successfully as I would like us to be. As soon as we create an open culture which we have done then we have to have the capacity to listen and act on opinions that are made clear to us, we are trying to get that right but we are not quite there yet, could do better may be the school report language best used here.

I think we have been able to pick up extra marks though for team development opportunities. In 2018, we were able to be part of content delivered by HIMSS, KLAS, HSJ, CHIME, Digital Health and BCS. We have opened opportunities for staff to apply for the Digital Academy, a hugely important leap for us, and had 10 interns join the team, many of whom have stayed on in some way. Exciting learning prospects for all of us continue to be available across the team and will remain a high priority for us in 2019.

Engagement Grade – B+

The awareness of the LTHT digital journey at a national and international level has doubled in the last 12 months. We have been successful in ensuring that when somebody wants to understand how to deliver an EHR in the NHS then Leeds is one of the top five places they think of. Being able to take part in the Arch Collaborative and achieve the Net Experience score that we did showed the engagement the large proportion of our clinical staff feel for the systems we have deployed.

Leeds’ success has been represented on three continents this year and is synonymous with clinical engagement, an open attitude to delivery, an inclusive ability to resourcing and a willingness to share. If I were to write my own obituary these would be words I would want to see and therefor I think the B+ is justified.

We have been able to bring leaders from across the health and social care system to Leeds to show them how the front line of digital health is really working and I would like to think that has impacted on policy in some small way.

The reason for the dropped marks is, despite the geographic location working for us (Leeds is after all the home of over 20% of the health informatics staff of the NHS), we have yet to truly make the most of Leeds the place. With so many organisations in Leeds that focus on digital health, our own position in that eco-system still needs to be eked out.

Innovation & Technology Grade – C-

Next year I have to focus more on this. We have so many ideas and so many amazing offers of help to make those ideas come to life but time and resource has run away with us too many times. We have been able to get the infrastructure for Single Sign On in place and the migration has largely gone well. Piloting the linking of devices to this infrastructure, not just the software side, is a remarkable feat I think.

I would have loved us to have our first implementation of cloud in place in 2018 but we are still a little way away from that. We have well formed plans for AI access to some specific solutions which I believe will be transformational, but again they will be early next year.

The speed of the systems we have and the reliability of the solutions they are hosted on has improved ten-fold, but user expectation outstrips our current capability to keep up. The work done to make the regional integration capability ‘bomb proof’ is outstanding but took us longer than we thought.

We know how we want to innovate and even who with, but in some cases we have come unstuck as we try to find ways to create relationships. For us, the way we have worked with Forward in 2018 has been a real test of how an NHS organisation can create a true partnership with a new innovative company and really build benefit. Being able to ‘gift’ the content of the Axe the Fax toolkit to Silver Buck for them to industrialise and make available to the wider NHS is another great example of an innovative approach with a new partner.

If ever there was a category with the immortal school report words, ‘must try harder’, it would be this area. I need to consider how to deploy more resource here to give us more chance at being truly ground breaking in this arena in 2019.

Collaboration Grade – C+

Achieving the Local Health and Care record Exemplar (LHCRE) status was clearly done only by collaboration across Yorkshire and Humber and was a big moment in 2018 for all of the team. Collaboration across the city area on the Leeds Care Record remains a highlight of the job and being able to represent Leeds as the platform with my fellow Proclaimer is something that enthuses me every time we get the opportunity to do it.

The dropped marks though here are because I know we have not played the part we should play in the West Yorkshire collaborative to the same degree. Something that next year I will prioritise is ensuring that the blueprinting work we do can be shared first and as a priority with colleagues across West Yorkshire. I know that we have the basis for a great relationship and one that will enable a better platform for patient care if we can find the right projects to collaborate on.

Summary Comments

In the school report it was those summary words that always cut to the chase the most, the form teacher comment on the future challenges for the student and the head of year views on focus for the coming year.

I think if these words were being written about me after this year they would go something like this:

A successful start to the new school. Needs to keep a closer eye on the detail and avoid getting distracted by some of the wider picture, even though it is important to still see this and bring it back to the ‘school’ – we need to have all of our own foundations in place before truly looking to help so many others on the journey. The class (the Digital and Informatics Team) needs the focus to be slightly more on them than it has been on some occasions in the year. The key challenge for the next year is to keep moving at the current pace but with the whole class on the same journey. This will be difficult to achieve with the expectations that have been set but is entirely doable with the skills available.

 

… and if that was the summary I would sleep well at night.

Partnerships and dancing…

Originally edited and published by www.digitalhealth.net reproduced here ahead of the Digital & Informatics Team at Leeds away day in July. Partnerships applies just as much to the team as it does to the age old ‘vendor’ relationship.

What do you need from the perfect dance partner? Someone with the same ear for a rhythm as you, someone that doesn’t tower over you, someone with strength and grace in awkward situations, someone who can stand up to a change in beat, or someone who will help when you miss a beat. All descriptions that a healthcare CIO needs to apply to building the perfect relationship with their commercial digital partners.

As an analogy does the search for the perfect ‘strictly’ partner help when picking the digital delivery partner, lets us look and see by considering the different ‘dances’ we have on offer:

Argentine Tango; is characterized by its hold embrace and complex leg and foot movements. It is an improvisational social dance that is truly a dance of leading and following.

Represented by a digital delivery partner that follows your every move no matter how complex the delivery is that you are trying to achieve. This type of partner, in the new agile environment of what is asked of digital in healthcare, needs to be able to improvise within a plan and deliver at a high speed, in a structured and planned manner. The risk with this kind of partner is that you as the digital leader either have to be leading the ‘dance’ at all times or if the partner wants to lead in this style of delivery they will be driving your organisation to their beat which comes with risk as your organisational goals and the digital benefits you are striving to achieve will have to be closely aligned to your partners throughout the relationship.

Ballroom Dancing; is a form of partnered dance that has pre-defined steps following strict tempo music, such as waltz, quickstep and foxtrot.

If your digital partner fits to this analogy then you have created a very structured but perhaps rigid partnership. Both you and your delivery partner know what is needed of you every step of the way; you are working closely on delivering against contractual elements that are clearly defined and well understood or at least a delivery plan that you have both worked hard on to ensure has wins for both parties included. The area of concern here would be the ability to react and work off plan together may take time. Creating the next steps in the new ways of working will not always meet the needs of a modern business change project, whilst that could be described as a failing the original plan will be delivered. This is ok if it is all that you need and therefore working in this way will be perfect for you both.

Contemporary dance; is not a specific dance form, but is a collection of methods and techniques developed from modern and post-modern dance

This style of partnership requires a true relationship to have been developed, one where a high level of trust has been put in place, after all you are about to embark on a journey that some will think is a little odd. Few digital delivery partnerships have been able to achieve the level of trust to work in this way, however if it can be put in place it will bring a surprising amount of success for both parties, a relationship that can be reaction driven and therefore drive an agile response to problems can be achieved through working in this way. The level of sceptism from the ‘audience’ though will be high for the success of the partnership and it is likely the partnership will be under constant observation from a governance point of view to test its validity as an ‘art form’. Conversations about delivery of digital in a post-modern world have been raised over the last couple of years a number of times, this way of working with partners perhaps is the way to see this come to a place where we, as digital leaders, can truly understand how this would work and indeed even what it means.

Jive; is a social dance that can be practiced to a broad range of popular music, making it highly versatile, which adds to its appeal. It is easy to learn and has simple footwork, making it accessible for beginners, but it is tricky to master.

Jive as an analogy for delivery partnership is perhaps best used for those quick partnerships that are only in place for the term of a single delivery focus. The partnership is easy enough to learn and create and is driven by the tempo of the delivery. No lasting commitment needs to be made to the partnership if all that is required is a successful and sharp delivery, but if this is to be maintained longer term and the pace of delivery kept up then a strict set of performance metrics need to be put in place to ensure the pace can be maintained longer term by both partners. A jive relationship will be tiring for all partners, a new level of contractual sustenance will need to be created to enable the relationship not to ‘flag’ as it gets tired of the pace.

Salsa; is in 4/4 time in two bar phrases with a pause on the 4th and 8th beats, which gives a quick-quick-slow rhythm. In classes a choreographed sequence is generally taught, but in practice it is an improvised dance.

Salsa can be described as a sales driven digital relationship. The initial excitement of the contract being signed and the new relationship created will give those early deliverables a focus; a shared impetus to deliver almost jive like, however without collective improvisation as the relationship matures the speed of delivery will slow down. This can be beneficial in creating quick wins and then moving to a more considered and managed relationship as long as the slowdown in delivery does not hit a stop. Improvisation of the relationship in after sales behaviour can ensure that this relationship continues to evolve and is successful.

Tap Dance; is an example of a non-partnered dance that is generally choreographed, with one or more participating dancers.

Going solo to deliver but in tandem with others is perhaps the best way to utilise this as a learning example. Maybe the Local Health and Care Record Exemplars (LHCRE) are a good example of five tap dances being performed around the country. Each of the cohorts will now be trying to create their own tap dance, the original choreography being provided by NHS England and the beat and shoes provided by NHS Digital and others. Each LHCRE cohort will be able to have an element of choice in the type of shoe and outfit they decide to wear but when the dance is the performance the music and choreography will have to be the same for the System of Systems approach to deliver across the country.

We need to be awake to the style of partner we are choosing for the dance, we need to be able to live with different ‘dance styles’ as part of our eco-system of partnerships as the same style will not work for each project nor each partner we choose. True success will come when we have picked the right partner for each type of dance we need to deliver and we know how to move seamlessly from style to style.

Grab your partners by the toe, let’s go do the Dozy Do, or as the legend that is Sir Bruce would say, Keep Dancing!

Leeds Digital Interns

What does a soap factory, a hotel laundry, a cheese processing plant and a builder’s merchant have in common? They were all places that I learnt my ‘trade’, and somehow I became a CIO in the health service!

Yesterday was a great day for the digital team in Leeds, for the second year running the team interviewed for student placements for the summer. Six bright young things part way through their education in all things digital science came to meet the team and to work with us to decide if the digital team in Leeds is the right place to come and trial the skills they have been learning all year.

So over the next couple of weeks we will welcome; Daniel, Daniel, George, George, Alice and Reece to the team. A gang of Computer Sciences students who have a passion to do something good with their newly developed knowledge, to quench their thirst to try what they know in the ‘real world’! The exceptional thing that made me jump for joy though is that these 25ish year olds all wanted to be in Leeds for one key reason; they wanted to do good with the knowledge they have learned, they wanted to give back, the wanted to deliver return on the reputation that Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust has built.

So much is written about the lack of faith that our future stars will have in the organisations they choose to work for and yet here I was faced with six stars of the future, all six of them looked ready to burst with enthusiasm. We delivered a presentation to them first, a bit of who we are and what we do, then another super star, Gareth Edwards one of our informatics nurses showed them what working here was going to be like. One of those age defining moments happened though as our amazing Informatics Nurse used a screen image of a computer game form the 80s and a computer game from now to show the difference in expectation that digital consumers have now. One of our candidates exclaimed; ‘My Dad used to play that game’, the sadness with a wry grin that swept over all of us in the room had to be seen to be believed as we realised just how fresh and ready for the challenge these new guys were going to be! But poor Gareth.

Much has been made of the Leeds Way, Davina Mcall has even explained it to Phil and Holly! When you see the Leeds Way ‘infecting’ new people into the organisation though is when you realise how well as a trust we have built this culture. After three hours with the team, in an assessment type scenario these guys were smiling, laughing and most importantly of all making amazing suggestions that we simply had not thought of. The assessment was a paper based affair, ‘think through how you would build the patient consent for surgery form?’ Remove the paper from the equation.

Now, lets just jump back a moment these are six students with no healthcare experience, the ideas they came up with, the references they were able to make to how people use technology, the way they really were appreciating the difference between digital transformation and IT really, truly blew my mind.

Thinking about colours, size of font, language, sensitivity about information recording, data protection, data ownership, access controls, the physicality of kit, the nature of the form; and most importantly the human nature of what was being considered. All came up in a 30 minute paired task!

So, we now have six new inductees into what we are and what we do; my promise is that their ‘summer job’ will not be like mine was; I won’t simply leave them to do the rubbish jobs, I will try to inspire them, I will try to send them back to their next year with a story to tell and if I can help influence a tiny little bit of the next generation of people who do what we do then crikey I am going to love this summer!

The #LeedsDigitalWay just started to create its next generation.

AI a shiny thing or the next loop in the evolution of digital healthcare.

In 2001 AI was ‘just’ a Steven Spielberg film; in May 2018 it is being described by many as a solution too so many ills within the NHS.

On the 21st of May the Prime Minister provided the NHS with her view on the way Artificial Intelligence could revolutionise the delivery of care for patients with Cancer, Dementia, Diabetes and Heart Disease and by 2030 save 50,000 lives. Grand claims and grand plans and a new direction for government. One that focuses on a digital art of the possible although certainly to leap from paper records in vast wire cages and trolleys as an “ok” solution through to AI as an opportunity for the delivery of care is no mean feat, but a goal we can try to play our part in.

The following day Satya Nadella the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft gathered CEOs and CIOs from digital business from across the UK to discuss what the team at Microsoft described as “Transformative AI”. The CEO used a quote by Mark Wesiser the prominent scientist of Xerox and the father of the term ubiquitous computing to open his presentation,

The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.

This is where we want our EHR to get to!

The conversation continued to try to deliver the fundamentals in AI. Data is what feeds and teaches AI, it provides the fuel to grow to learn the what and the how.

Collecting more data therefore will educate AI more quickly; the next horizon is to make the nine billion micro-processors that are shipped every year become SMART devices. The micro-processor in your toaster, your alarm clock, your motion sensor light can become part of the data collection capability that will be responsible for our education of AI. The sheer growing size of data is something well documented, the creation of data will have reached a new horizon by 2020 and will look something like the figures below:

  • A SMART City – 250 Petabytes a day
  • SMART Stadium – 1 Petabytes a day
  • SMART Office 150 Gigabytes a day
  • A SMART Car 5 Terabytes a day
  • Your Home 50 Gigabytes a day
  • You 1.5 Gigabytes a day

20 Billion SMART Devices will exist in the world

(8 bits to the byte, 1,024 bytes to the kilobyte, 1,024 kilobytes to the megabyte, 1,024 megabytes to the terabyte and 1,024 terabytes to the petabyte) The average mobile phone now has 128 gigabyte; the first man went to the moon on a computer that had less memory)

So much data to educate the AI of the world, the insights that could be gained are incredible.

The journey from what we know as an IT enabled world to a digital world sees the move from ubiquitous computing to Artificial Intelligence as a pervasive way of life and then on to a world where we live in a multi-sense and multi device experience.

The impact on the relationship between us and technology has evolved in how it is perceived; technology was ‘simply’ a tool, initially as AI evolved it worked for us as a subordinate and as AI evolves still further it will become more of a social peer in how we consider what it can offer us in healthcare. The most common Christmas present in the UK this year was one of the voice activated assistant, people all over the UK are now having chats with Alexa, Siri, Cortana or simply saying Hey Google to find out some fact that just alluded them or to ask for a simple task to be done.

The original concept of distributed computing (or cloud) gives us the ability to create the computer power and data storage that is needed to evolve AI capability. Distributed compute adds IT complexity, it is now our job to find ways to tame the complexity by ensuring consistency and a unification of experiences, this applies more to digital healthcare than any other ‘business’ as we try to utilise digital as a way to standardise the delivery of care as much as we possibly can.

The definition of Artificial Intelligence is said to have been first coined in 1956 in Dartmouth, the journey from this definition now includes the term Machine Learning first applied to algorithms that are trained with data to learn autonomously and more recently since 2010 the term deep learning, where systems are enabled to go off and simply learn beyond a set of specific parameters. The art of clinical practice, the need to have a human touch though is well understood in healthcare. This is why more and more AI in healthcare is referred to as an ability to augment the delivery of care, AI does not deliver a solution to offer less clinicians in the service, what it does is remove the need to have clinical time spent on anything other than patient care, AI offers the opportunity to increase the human touch. A further quote reinforces this in the book The Future Computed;

In a sense, artificial intelligence will be the ultimate tool because it will help us build all possible tools.

Eric Drexler author of Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery Manufacturing and Computation (1992)

The journey to AI in our world is getting quicker. The journey to AI being successful is best measured when the different components of it reach parity with us humans;

  • In 2016 AI became able to see to the power of us, and passed the RESNET vision test with 96% able to see 152 layers of complexity.
  • In 2017 AI became able to understand speech to the same degree we can the 5.1% switchboard speech recognition test.
  • In January 2018 AI was able to read and comprehend to the same degree as a human passing the SQuAD comprehension test with 88.5%.
  • In March 2018 AI became better than a human at translation, now able to translate in real time successfully to an MIT measure of 69.9%.

The road to an AI augmented world though is about amplifying human ingenuity; AI can help us with reasoning and allow us to learn and form conclusions from imperfect data. It can now help us with understanding; interpret meanings from data including text, voice and images. It can also now interact with us in seemingly natural ways learning how to offer emotionally intelligent responses. A Chat Bot launched in China now has millions of friends on across multiple social media channels, it has learnt to offer help to its ‘friends’ that are demonstrating symptoms of depression, phoning up friends to wish them good night and offering advice and guidance on sleep patterns but in a very human way.

Gartner have reported that the ‘business opportunity’ associated to AI in 2018 is now worth $1.2 trillion! Suddenly AI is the new Big Data which was the new Cloud Computing, which was the new mobile first. All of these terms have had hype but have all in reality brought a new digital pitch to our business strategies and our lives.

Great Ormond Street Hospital in partnership with UCL is leading the way in AI application into healthcare with several projects delivering startlingly real results.

Project Basecode: Transcribing speech in real time and utilising AI capability to add information to spoken word dictation capture.

Project Heartstone: A device for passing messages, verbal and video to patients of GOSH that may be too young to have their own Smart Phone, the device can be expanded to offer services to children who may be deaf or blind.

Project Fizzyo: Puts in place gamification to the delivery of breathing physiotherapy for children with Cystic Fibrosis and captures the information for the clinical record offering analysis as it goes.

Sensor Fusion: Creates perhaps the most immersive AI elements in healthcare today, recording events throughout the hospital, offering machine learning developed advice and data driven descriptions of events as they occur.

At Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust we have created a platform in the form of our Electronic Health Record (EHR). With this platform we can now begin to consider how this clinical push for AI and the difference it can make to patients lives and the way we work can be achieved in a carful and considered way.

This digital revolution can make a real impact on Leeds; the patients, clinicians and staff enabling us to provide the care we want to provide following the Leeds Way principles with digital as a supportive backbone.

If you want to know more or have an idea as to how you could help in this area get in touch with us via @DITLeeds

International menu of interoperability…

First published on www.digitalhealth.net

When you are on holiday do you play that ‘why?’ and ‘what if…’ game? For example in the USA on a recent holiday we were chatting about why foods are called different things in different countries. A quick poolside thumb poll had the list below as differences between the UK and USA, and we are sure there are more:

  • Zucchini and Courgette
  • Egg Plant and Aubergine
  • Garbanzo Beans and Chick Peas
  • Arugula and Rocket
  • Cilantro and Coriander
  • Scallions and Spring Onions
  • Chips and Crisps
  • Fries and Chips

The only excuse we could come up with for why this happened was timing. These food stuffs were perhaps discovered at around the same time across the world and therefore no name was ever right or wrong, just more timely and geographically rich. The experience of being in a different country and seeing these new words for the same things adds a little nature of the exotic, particularly when the country speaks the same language (kind of).

But these differences speak to the single largest challenge that faces our digital health menu today: the challenge of interoperability and integration. When we talk about the delivery of a new healthcare paradigm we speak of the delivery of integrated care, a care delivery experience that places the patient at the centre and has no boundaries. But to achieve this requires information to mean the same thing to all those involved in its delivery. Where this isn’t possible we put in place a perpetually repeating health system; one where learning the parameters of a situation, of an illness, of a prescribed cure are repeated at each gateway to a different healthcare system. We don’t want an exotic patient experience we want an efficient and safe experience.

The journalist Geoffrey Williams once said, “You can’t understand one language until you understand at least two.” Goethe went even further claiming, “He who does not know foreign languages does not know anything about his own.” Moving healthcare delivery to a system-wide approach is the goal of over 50 (locally driven) digital initiatives in the NHS alone. The goal of an integrated health and care record is to provide access to, and translation of, multiple care languages. The pressure facing healthcare systems across the world today will only be resolved through integrated approaches that enable health and social care to work together to manage the front and back door to every major acute hospital in the system. A busy Accident and Emergency Department is no longer the problem that the acute hospital can resolve on its own, it is a system-wide issue that the geography has to resolve together. Access to information will unlock this resolution, but first we need to enable the way we refer to the healthcare to be shared.

For the last two decades sharing information between care settings has been a digital goal. In the late 1990s Hampshire became ‘famous’ for the delivery of an exemplar record sharing environment, linking access to information recorded in the ‘Exeter System’ to information in GP systems, to aid the delivery of healthcare regardless of the setting. The largest issue that stunted growth of this early pilot though was the quality of the data and the ability to index the information. The need for a common identifier across health systems was raised and the NHS Number mandated by a target date. It’s a shame that this would not be the last time the NHS number was mandated by a target date…

Jumping forward to 2017, the Irish health system delivered a unique EU-wide identifier for the delivery of healthcare to its citizens. Huge effort was put into delivering this in an agile manner at a limited cost, and today the number exists and is available but its actual implementation in healthcare delivery itself remains very patchy. We can also look at an example in Leeds today too. Having spoken to other healthcare jurisdictions, the Leeds Care Record has become well known throughout Europe as an example of local systems working together to achieve something quite remarkable. The Leeds Care Record is a platform that enables integration at a level beyond almost anywhere else in the NHS. Over 35 systems are able to share information in a controlled, secure and legitimate fashion. 111 GPs also benefit from having access to what is recorded about their patients’ hospital visit. They also share key elements of the GP record with the healthcare delivery system throughout the geography. And that word is where the Leeds Care Record does fail; it works for the geography of Leeds and so this isn’t integration, this is interoperability. In Leeds, information is shared through the same platform but the reference points for the delivery of care remain in the same ‘language’ of the originating care setting. The reliance is on the interpreter and their own understanding of the information.

Culture plays a huge part in how we create an interoperable health care system which digital supports. In his book Culture, Terry Eagleton tries to define what culture means to organisations. He has four areas that he believes are most relevant to creating the right culture: values, customs, beliefs and symbolic practices. None of these particularly speaks to a standardised way of operating and therefore, if we believe in culture being how we make things happen in an organisation, then interoperability will always be an area we strive to achieve.

In the same book Eagleton, who is from Ireland, notes that the postbox, an original integration tool, donates civilisation. However the fact that Ireland has painted its mailboxes the famous Ireland green denotes a culture, a difference to others. In Leeds we have many gold postboxes, a legacy of the London Olympics, when gold medal winners had the postbox closest to their home town painted gold as an honour. Again, culture flouting a standard.

As quickly as we can, we need to begin to agree nationally (and why not even globally) if we are to achieve integrated or interoperable healthcare systems. The standards to do this exist in so many ways already. Digital health doesn’t need changes to be made at the mega-vendor level, the systems need to adopt the standards and then innovate to exist in a ‘system of systems’ approach.

Maybe we need to use Eagleton’s four cultural reference points as starting points to creating a joint understanding of where we need to get to.

Values: The value of having integrated care has been made clear for decades. Digital leaders are still at the begging bowl though, seeking funding to deliver the necessary platforms that are required to enable information sharing. Information is now becoming more complex, faster in the way it changes and more encompassing of the healthcare experience and value needs to be placed on the innovation needed to achieve a truly interoperable healthcare system.

Customs: Local customs need to be protected but somehow we need to move from the clinical system paradigm. You know the one, where the clinician you have engaged loves the idea of a single system across the hospital, they feel it’s a great idea, but their additional one special system still needs to be protected as well. This has become known as the ‘one plus one’ clinical system and in a hospital it means we have one system, plus one for every adventurous clinician in the hospital.

Beliefs: We need the healthcare system to stand up for the belief it has in the delivery of integrated care. That belief will drive the ultimate understanding of what a system of systems digital solution can provide.

Symbolic practices: Perhaps in the NHS this is about to happen with the launch of the Local Health and Care Record Exemplars funding and a platform to enable lessons to be learned, standards to be tested at local levels (of five million population) and a real drive from the centre and from the ‘spokes’ to truly achieve this.

There has to be a hook to the original Bevan statement about the creation of the NHS, “Healthcare free at the point of contact”, so now we need data ‘free’ at the point of contact and this can only be achieved if we all have the same reference points.

Now, can I get some fries, I mean chips, I mean crisps, I mean home fries…

If only IT were free.

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!

 

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