New Digital transformation bulletin

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The new Digital transformation bulletin is for anyone with an interest in data, digital technology and services within health and care. Providing a round-up of the latest news, programme updates, events and relevant media coverage in the digital transformation of the NHS.

The bulletin will be published every six weeks, giving a flavour of the depth and breadth of digital work being driven nationally by teams across NHS England, NHS Digital, NHS improvement, the Department of Health and Social Care and beyond. Subscribe now to receive the latest news and developments.

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Advice on using or implementing online consultation services

The Royal College of General Practitioners  has produced guidance which outlines considerations for GPs and GP practices considering using or implementing online consultation services.  It also includes advice for commissioning bodies such as Clinical Commissioning Groups in England that might be considering a system for their local population – one question being whether the system is likely to address current demand or generate new demand, and if the latter, what resources are available to meet it.

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This report comes as a growing number of services offering consultations online, most commonly via a smartphone apps, are hitting the market. Whilst many of these are private, some have developed partnerships with GP practices in order to deliver NHS care.

“The College recognises that online consultations can be beneficial for patients, and indeed many practices across the country are already implementing in some form. However, we want to ensure that they are being implemented in a way that is safe for patients, and alleviates pressures in general practice and across the NHS. We also think that online consultations should be provided in addition to traditional services, not instead of them.

Professor Martin Marshall, Vice Chair of the RCGP and author of the guidance, said “We hope this guidance will help everyone – patients, GPs, practice team members and commissioners – gain a better insight into online consultations, and, most importantly, help equip them with the information they need, so that patients are receiving high-quality, safe care, whichever way they choose to receive it (Royal College of General Practitioners).

The full report can be read here 

Making the most of digital technology in the NHS a case study approach

The King’s Fund spotlights the work of Liverpool Commissioning Group, responsible for NHS services across the city which is implementing a shared patient record amongst other technology developments; and Essex University Partnership Trust, a community and mental health provider covering one of the largest geographic areas of any single trust.  While the Commissioning Group is using technology with the aim of improving residents’ health; Essex University Partnership Trust has been using digital technology to change its service delivery to patients. Each of these areas are using electronic records and enabling staff to access their office facilities through mobile working. 

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The blog post outlines the difficulties in managing digital change as well as discussing the benefits of implementing digital technology, such as improved patient safety as a result of better information.  They conclude there are three key drivers of success in such digital projects

  1. the quality and level of clinical engagement and involvement in project and system design
  2. the belief in your work and involvement at board level
  3. resourcing your support and training correctly.

Neither of the interviewees in the case studies neither found digital change easy, but they outlined that to facilitate these changes there was a need for peer-to-peer communication, clinical leadership and ensuring those at the front line are involved in designing their service.

The full blog post is available from The King’s Fund 

Cancer app developed by GPs being trialled by CCGs

A GP-developed app aiming to help GPs navigate the tests and urgent referrals necessary for patients presenting with cancer symptoms is being trialled by two CCGs | Pulse

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C the Signs was co-founded by newly qualified GP Dr Bhavagaya Bakshi and fellow doctor Miles Payling and quickly checks symptoms of more than 200 cancers against multiple diagnostic referral pathways.

Last week the app won the People’s award at the Tech4Good awards and is now set to be trialled with GPs in the East of England to test its real world cost and clinical effectiveness.

Read the full news story here

Roll out of NHS Wi-Fi to GP surgeries begins

NHS Digital has begun roll out of NHS WiFi to GP surgeries in England and it should be completed by the end of the year.

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Using NHS WiFi, patients will be able to access the internet free of charge in their GP’s waiting room, via their smart phone or tablet. It will enable patients to link in with local health clinics and services and is paving the way for future developments in digital patient care.

NHS WiFi will provide a secure, stable, and reliable WiFi capability, consistent across all NHS settings. It will allow patients and the public to download health apps, browse the internet and access health and care information.

Local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are responsible for choosing a supplier that can provide an NHS WiFi compliant system which suits their needs, and working with them to implement it across their local NHS sites. The chosen system must be based on a set of policies and guidance defined by NHS Digital.

What CCGs need to do to implement NHS WiFi in GP practices:

CCGs must:

  • assign a named project manager to oversee the process and act as the primary point of contact for their CCG with the NHS Digital WiFi project team
  • design a solution that meets NHS WiFi standards and requirements and fulfils local needs
  • choose a supplier to provide the solution and buy it from them (procure it)
  • tell GP practices and other local stakeholders what is going to happen and when
  • implement the chosen NHS WiFi compliant solution in GP practices locally, following local ICT policy
  • report progress to NHS Digital at defined stages of the process

Guidance is available via NHS Digital relating to implementing NHS WiFi in GP practices.

Further details available here

IT intervention to support medicine optimisation in primary care

Jeffries, M. et al. (2017) Understanding the implementation and adoption of an information technology intervention to support medicine optimisation in primary care: qualitative study using strong structuration theory. BMJ Open. 7:e014810

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Objectives: Using strong structuration theory, we aimed to understand the adoption and implementation of an electronic clinical audit and feedback tool to support medicine optimisation for patients in primary care.

Conclusions: Successful implementation of information technology interventions for medicine optimisation will depend on a combination of the infrastructure within primary care, social structures embedded in the technology and the conventions, norms and dispositions of those utilising it. Future interventions, using electronic audit and feedback tools to improve medication safety, should consider the complexity of the social and organisational contexts and how internal and external structures can affect the use of the technology in order to support effective implementation.

Read the full article here

Transforming community care with digital technologies

Chris Gregory, head of clinical systems for LGSS Local Health and Care Shared Service explains how mobile solutions are transforming the work of community-based health teams | NHE

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As the IT provider to Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS FT, LGSS has been involved in delivering mobile working solutions to a number of community-based health teams, including health visitors and district nurses, and for providing similar solutions in local government.

The trend towards delivering care closer to home to meet both patient aspirations, and the need to deliver savings through the reduction of estate, means that increasing levels of flexible working are being demanded across the NHS. If done successfully, mobile working can help to deliver the type of service that patients tell us they would like from their health service.

As with many IT services we’ve had a few attempts at delivering practical mobile working solutions, each based on and constrained by the technology available at the time. Prior to our latest deployment, we asked staff what they needed from a mobile device. Overwhelmingly, those who responded wanted:

  • A small form factor: There is plenty of other equipment a district nurse needs to carry so devices need to be small, as light as possible and certainly no more awkward to carry than the files of paper notes previously used
  • Sufficient battery life to get through an entire working day
  • A fast start-up: Ensuring that as little of the precious contact time with the patient was spent waiting for the technology
  • Versatility: Multiple means of inputting data, suggesting the need for both touchscreen and keyboard input

Read the full article here