Accelerating integrated health care at The Walton Centre

Dr Sandeep Lakhani and Justin Griffiths describe how investment through NHSX’s Digital Aspirant (DA) programme is helping The Walton Centre accelerate its work to digitise the trust's Intensive Therapy Unit.

A key ambition of The Walton Centre is to make patient pathways through the hospital a more joined up, digital process to ensure the right information gets to the right person at the right time. This will free up clinical time and reduce confusion when dealing with patient care.

We’ve been steadily working towards paperless record keeping. Giving clinicians the ability to access all patients’ records instantly ensures they use their time with patients more efficiently to deliver better informed, high quality care. This is incredibly important, and it's a big challenge to ensure all the separate systems work in harmony for the benefit of both our patients and the staff.

Funding and support through the DA programme will mean an increase in pace. The IT team is now bringing plans to digitise The Walton Centre’s Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) forward by a year, as the new funding will increase the resources that can be dedicated to future projects.

The ITU is a very complex environment, where we treat some of our most seriously ill patients. In emergency situations, ITU clinicians need urgent access to accurate patient information, so the transition to digital records needs to be smooth and efficient. We’ve been working out the best way to integrate more patient records within ITU with the rest of the trust’s electronic records.This will enable clinicians to view internal records electronically instead of on paper, and give them access to external patient information such as data from North West Ambulance Service, GP data and patient-related correspondence across the Cheshire and Merseyside area. Information will be viewable in a patient context, and easily accessible from a tablet, a laptop or a desktop computer in the ITU department. All ITU forms will be digitised to bring together a complete picture of the patient's recovery as well as allowing rich data to be used in business intelligence and potentially, in the future in an AI environment.

It’s an incredibly exciting time. With the DA funding, we can accelerate projects and move closer to being a completely digital trust.

We’re currently in the process of writing our next three year digital strategy and this boost will help us deliver our ambitions. The plan is to review everything, from infrastructure and our digital maturity, to interoperability and how patients can benefit from state-of-the-art software. Our priority right now is to continue digitising records ensuring these systems communicate with each other smoothly. The future will seedigital systems working in harmony with clinicians, giving them high levels of support, wherever possible.

COVID-19 has shown us the potential of embracing a more digital world for the benefit of both patients and staff. We will build on this by continuing to innovate and improving our digital offer. Bringing our ambitions forward through Digital Aspirant funding is a very welcome step that will not only make a huge difference to how we work, but will ultimately improve the safety and quality of the care we deliver for our patients.