Trusts join forces using Digital Aspirant funding to deliver more joined up patient care

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust provides acute hospital services to more than 445,700 people across North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire and West and East Lindsey. The trust has 860 beds across three hospitals and employs around 6,700 members of staff. Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust operates from two main hospital sites: Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital, and provides a number of additional services based across Hull. The trust employs around 8,000 staff and serves around one million patients every year.

Both NHS trusts were named amongst the first sites to join NHSX’s Digital Aspirant (DA) programme. They will each receive up to £6m over the duration of the programme to help deliver their digital ambitions.

What was the aim?

Patients in the Humber area often require care from a number of specialties across both North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) and Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (HUTH). Often, patients are brought to HUTH Emergency Department but their medical information is held within the NLAG systems.

Currently, clinicians have to phone each other or rely on what’s available in GP summary care records to access the relevant patient information.

Therefore, their joint ambition is to use digital technology to share information across both trusts, enabling more joined up care for patients.

What was the solution?

Shorter term: creating strong foundations with the right kit and infrastructure

In order to deliver longer term projects, the trusts used DA funding to accelerate vital upgrades of infrastructure, hardware, networks and WiFi. The trusts recognised that the ability to introduce new medical technologies and software was limited by older infrastructure and poorer networks.

Longer term: transforming how the trusts work together using digital technology

NLAG and HUTH approached the DA programme jointly. They have set out a long term programme of collaborative work in order to meet their ambitions to use digital technology to share information and enable more joined up care.

These planned projects include:

  • integrating the Patient Administration System (PAS) - enabling clinicians to view patient information from either organisation when and where it’s needed and providing a more seamless experience for patients
  • Electronic Patient Records (EPR) - providing a linked view of the trusts’ EPR so that patient records can be access through both trusts’ systems
  • Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) - exploring mechanisms to allow both trusts to automate workflows, removing the need for repetitive data entry and freeing up more time for staff to spend delivering care

What were the results?

New and improved infrastructure

In addition to upgrades of networks and WiFi across both trusts, DA funds have been used to purchase new devices which are being deployed over the summer of 2021, including:

  • 580 desktop computers
  • 1,050 laptop computers
  • 650 monitors (24 inch) with integrated docking
  • 60 all-in-one devices (combined desktop and monitor to save space in clinical areas)
  • 10 workstations on wheels, which can be moved around clinical areas to allow clinicians to access systems near their patients
  • 50 ward screens
  • 350 wifi access points and additional wifi upgrades

The ability to work remotely

The rollout of devices enabled staff to work remotely, delivering outpatient appointments, where appropriate, using Attend Anywhere®. In 2020 to 2021, the trusts surpassed a target of carrying out 30% of outpatient appointments remotely, and plan to build on this where it’s clinically appropriate.

Board-level support

Programme funding has helped digital teams engage board and executive-level support for digital, adding to the boards’ understanding of the value of digital capabilities.

The trusts have also appointed a joint chief medical information officer (CMIO). Going forward, the role will support more collaborative working, ensuring engagement with clinicians across all sites and providing a single point of contact for clinical teams. A chief nursing & allied health professional information officer (CN&AWPIO) will join the Trust in August further strengthening the clinical digital leadership.

Testimonials

“Our Workstation on Wheels® has enabled us to use technology to support our daily procedures. We can take it into the patient’s room to complete procedures such as chest drains or carry out assessments and then access the patient’s record whilst still with the patient. It frees up our time away from our desks and makes the time with the patient more efficient.”

Vicky Bailey, planned investigation unit ward manager, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust

“The Digital Aspirant funding is enabling us to provide our care providers and administrators with modern tools and solutions that support them to deliver the best they can in their roles.

“Connecting our systems allows care providers to have a more complete picture of a person’s health history and to make more informed decisions jointly by the individual and those involved in their health and wellness.

“As we build on our digital capability we expect to increase home monitoring opportunities - offering more peace of mind for patients, without them having to come to hospital. This type of monitoring can support effective care management and alert care providers before a patient experiences deterioration in their health status.

“A modern digital organisation also has a positive impact on our environment – virtual consultations reduce the number of cars on the road coming to the hospital and reduces the amount of paper we use. Shauna McMahon, chief information officer, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust

"We agreed to spend our year one funding on our infrastructure. What we wanted to do is get the network, the infrastructure, the WiFi upgraded now, so that in year two of the Digital Aspirant programme we can actually roll out new functionality.

“We've upgraded across the organisation earlier than we'd intended - Digital Aspirant funding has supported that.

“Our major plan for year two is to integrate our Electronic Patient Record with our neighbouring trust, North Lincolnshire and Goole. We're now in a good position to begin that work.”

Tracy Sowersby, deputy digital director, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

“I am delighted to see how we are integrating our systems to support patient care.

“As an ED consultant in Hull, I am acutely aware of the need for relevant, up-to-date information being available in order to provide the best care to patients and I know how this applies across many specialties.

“The Digital Aspirant programme has already provided us with the means to improve our digital capability and we will now build on our foundations and harness the power that digital records and technology can add to healthcare.

“The programme has boosted our ability to support patients with their appointments and staff in their work through the flexibility of remote consultations and secure network access. This has fundamentally changed how we work and can support patients with their own health.”

Dr Alastair Pickering, chief medical information officer, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust and Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust