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.
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.