£6m funding to improve  digitisation in healthcare provider organisations

Surrey Heartlands has been offered a £6m share of the £412.5m funding for Health System Led Investment (HSLI) recently announced by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock MP. The funding is to be allocated over the next three years to invest in the digitisation of acute hospital, ambulance, community and mental health providers.

Provider digitisation is aimed at delivering a range of service improvements resulting in benefits for patients. For example, patient information should be digitally recorded once at or close to the point of care. Patient information recorded in one care setting will be available in other settings. Clinicians working will be alerted promptly to key patient events and changes in status.

Digital technology will also be brought into play to support the enhancement of a range of tasks aimed at improving patient outcomes and avoiding bureaucracy and duplication.  Information about  a wide range of patient care components – transfers, referrals, observations, medications, pathology results, diagnostics, dates and schedules, orders, results, alerts, notices and clinical communications – will be delivered digitally, based on common terminology between providers.

As local fund holder, Surrey Heartlands will start the process with a long-list of potential projects which may be drawn from local transformation plans, Local Digital Roadmaps and digital maturity assessments.

However NHS England is clear that it expects to see local health systems making progress against the following digitisation priorities:

  • Deploying electronic patient record systems at scale to allow provider digitisation to go further, faster, and more cost-effectively
  • Extending system capacity management to improve hospital flow with measures such as real time bed occupancy management
  • Improving system-wide staff rostering to reduce agency use and increase flexible working
  • Improving the completeness of information available in non-acute settings with real time, coded data collection in community, mental health to facilitate better patient care
  • Improving ambulance and non-acute access to clinical information and support, for example, technology to link paramedics in the field to support from an A&E clinician to reduce unnecessary transportation and hospital admissions
  • Sharing health and social care information to create a shared view between health and care professions working in people’s homes to optimise the care that patients receive

Key to successful digitisation across the Surrey Heartlands health and care landscape is the ability of the digital systems used by provider organisations to talk to each other. Indeed, NHS England is putting interoperability at the centre of the project, insisting that Surrey Heartlands ensures that provider organisations comply with national interoperability standards designed to enable the effective sharing of data across care settings. Talks with eligible provider organisations are underway.