Case study: Engaging clinical staff in technology deployment

Liverpool trusts share secrets of success after rollout of enterprise content management system

Fears that medical professionals are failing to embrace the benefits of IT are being allayed with news of a successful rollout of electronic patient records at two major hospital trusts in Liverpool.

Amid widespread concern that secondary care clinicians, in particular, are slow to accept the benefits of technology, a multi-million pound project at Alder Hey and Liverpool Women’s hospitals is showing the way forward.

Providing care for hundreds of thousands of women, babies and children every year, the two hospitals hold details of a combined one million patients, traditionally all in paper records.

Accepting the benefits of a paperless system, both Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust began to randomly scan patient files two years ago, but the process proved slow and unreliable.

If you can’t find the paper records, or if they no fit state to inform clinicians about how they need to treat the patient, then that represents a massive clinical risk

As a result, in 2011, a project was embarked upon with the clear focus of making better patient information available to clinicians at the right time and in the right place.

This bid was led by the hospitals’ chief information officer, Dr Zafar Chaudry, and his team.

He told BBH: “If you can’t find the paper records, or if they no fit state to inform clinicians about how they need to treat the patient, then that represents a massive clinical risk.”

With manual scanning proving too complex and time-consuming, the trust took the decision to implement an enterprise content management system (ECM). Key to the deployment was to get the backing of clinical users, who have long been accused of failing to embrace the role technology can play in improving health services and enhancing patient outcomes.

For Chaudry the solution to this challenge lay with designing a system using the software solutions staff already favoured in their day-to-day duties, and getting their feedback at every stage of the process.

As clinicians are the end users of the system, it was important to engage with them from the beginning, rather than impose our own specifications

The hospitals use the MEDITECH clinical patient information system and needed a technology that could quickly integrate with this and the other core systems without a huge financial investment. The trusts also needed the work to be carried out in a short timeframe of just eight months; a crucial deadline if they were to keep staff engaged in the project.

Following a comprehensive tender project, the IT team selected an ECM solution from Perceptive Software. Its team worked with the in-house IT managers and clinicians to find out exactly how they preferred information to be presented. Again, Chaudry sees this involvement as key to the future success of the system.

“As clinicians are the end users of the system, it was important to engage with them from the beginning, rather than impose our own specifications,” he said.

Following deployment, which took one month less than the trust’s deadline, Perceptive Software is now fully integrated with MEDITECH and is available round the clock. Clinicians simply log into the MEDITECH system and when they a view patient record, they are advised, via a link clearly displayed on screen, that there is additional information relating to that patient housed in the ECM system. By clicking on the link they are then able to quickly and clearly view the digitised documents on screen and take the appropriate action.

Although the migration of data onto the ECM system is an on-going process, it is progressing well and the benefits are already being realised.

“The biggest benefit for clinical staff is having a single view of all the information they need pertaining to a patients care, in one place,” said Chaudry.

This is an excellent example of a technology-enabled change project, where we have been able to review our processes and introduce the right underlying system to refine and roll them out across the organisation

Furthermore, the infrastructure is hosted within the hospitals private cloud to give the round-the-clock data centre capability at an industry standard level.

Chaudry said: “The success of the deployment, reliability of the system, and the fact that it is already delivering real-world benefits in our hospitals at the point of care is testament to the teamwork between Perceptive Software, our IT department and our clinicians.”

The rollout is now being seen as a benchmark for other trusts struggling to get buy-in from staff or concerned about interoperability with legacy systems.

The next step for the Liverpool IT managers is to digitise the remaining 700,000 paper-based records and place them on to the system.

“There is an infinite amount we can do with the system and we are currently investigating the use of eForms for data capture,” said Chaudry. “We are now working with Perceptive Software more as a technology partner than a vendor to leverage our investment and accelerate the rollout of ECM across all other departments within the hospital.”

“We are proud to say that this is an excellent example of a technology-enabled change project, where we have been able to review our processes and introduce the right underlying system to refine and roll them out across the organisation.”

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