Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) has published its digital strategy and plans for the next three years.
The strategy opens with comments from chief clinical information officer, Ashley May, in which she states: “I believe that digital systems can support long-term change and improvement in this trust. It will help us to deliver better care that is more appropriate to the people who give it and to the people we serve.” She notes that the next years will see the trust implement a new EPR and work with primary, community and mental health partners in the area to share information and use data ti provide a more proactive and personalised service.
“Patient outcomes are the driving force of digital transformation and clinicians need to be key players in designing and encouraging digital change,” Ashley summarises. “We pledge, in this document, to challenge our organisation to think and act differently when it comes to digital strategy. This means supporting our workforce to embed digital processes in the way we work, the way we communicate and the way we improve and develop.”
Director of digital transformation, Rebecca Gallimore, adds: “The pace of digital change has never been so fast; nor will it slow down. It is crucial that we act now, collectively, to deliver this strategy. This will ensure that we have the digital foundations in place to provide high quality care for our patients, while allowing us to plan for the future and make the most of digital opportunities in the coming years.
“To some, digital transformation is exciting and aspirational. To others, it may be difficult to picture what this means in practice or looks like in three years. Our commitment is that we will work with our patients, staff and partners to deliver this digital transformation in a way that supports everyone to maximise the potential of digital in delivering safer, more effective care.”
The strategy is split into three sections; how the trust will use digital to improve care for patients, support staff and enhance work; how core digital foundations will be put in place to set them up for future transformation and innovation; and how developments will see the trust become a digitally smart organisation and partner.
Improving care for patients, supporting staff and enhancing work
Here, the trust states that the strategy will support them in putting in place the standards and technology expected of an NHS acute hospital trust.
With regards to contributing towards the NHS meeting national priorities, the trust shares some objectives including embedding a culture of continuous improvement; achieving agreed performance by embedding the Quality Strategy, Maternity Improvement Plan and Getting to Good Programme; to establish themselves as a sustainable, paper-light organisation; and to build foundations ready for their hospital transformation, with new builds planned from 2026.
Focusing on ICS-level improvement, the plan notes that the strategy will “support the ambitions of the ICS in delivering a digital-first approach to improving care. We will work together to fully utilise limited finance and resource, while enabling the sharing of information across complex platforms and delivering new insights into the services we provide.”
The document shares some of the ICS high profile programmes, including the hospital transformation programme, which will see acute reconfiguration of Royal Shrewsbury Hospital as it becomes the primary focal point for emergency care; the Musculoskeletal Programme, with plans to standardise referrals to service and create a single point of referral; and workforce transformation plans, which will enable a digitally enhanced workforce with new ways of working.
The trust’s digital strategy sets an aim to support these programmes by empowering the population and workforce through co-design of digital solutions with the people who will be using them; connecting organisations through interoperable systems; committing to digital inclusion through training and accessible technologies; working together to improve quality and safety outcomes through digital processes; using data to record, predict and respond to ill health and tackle inequalities; embed system thinking to share resources and expertise; and commit to innovation, transformation and doing things differently.
Narrowing down further to a trust-specific view, the strategy shares the trust’s own priorities. Under ‘delivering excellent care for patients’, the plan specifies a need to ensure seamless patient pathways and to deliver a better patient journey and experience. It notes that this will be achieved through patient empowerment, enabling patients to better manage their own health and wellbeing; through building confidence and trust so that patients can book their own appointments, review their medical history and access treatments in the right place at the right time; and co-ordinating care through connecting organisations to share information and improve decision-making.
With regards to ‘enabling staff to provide better care and services’, the trust focuses on improving quality of care and making SaTH a great place to work. Here, they share their aim to support staff to focus on delivery by equipping them with the right tools and skills needed to perform effectively; to drive efficient use of clinical and non-clinical resources; and to support proactive decision-making by using data-driven insights and developing population-based models of care.
Finally, looking at ‘becoming a more effective and efficient organisation’, SaTH highlight the need for modern infrastructure to facilitate a connected experience for patients, carers and staff; to level up by putting in place the standards and tech expected of an NHS acute site; and to focus on sustainability by reducing costs, risks and environmental impact.
Setting up core digital foundations
In this section, the strategy places emphasis on key areas of work: records management, transfer of care, diagnostic requests, results and reporting; medicines management; decision support; remote and assistive support; asset and resource management; business and clinical intelligence; infrastructure and standards; and access and communications.
Here, we will take a look at the actions and aims shared in this areas.
Records management: the EPR programme is to deliver a suite of software modules that will modernise the approach to care provision, with the cloud-based EPR to provide clinicians with a single view of information whilst also introducing digital workflows, decision support and care planning capabilities. The Patient Administration System (PAS) is to provide access to up-to-date information and support the trust in improving the quality of information recorded. The new maternity records system will ensure continuity of care across settings and into the community. In addition, the strategy notes that the theatre teams will be provided with “rich clinical content and the tools for efficient and effective theatre management”, whilst emergency teams will be equipped to track patients on their journeys.
Transfer of care: the trust pledges to support transfer of care by ensuring that the right data feeds into the One Health and Care shared record for the region. Staff will be supported to communicate through secure mobile and web-based messaging, with content recorded and stored within the patient record. A notation system is to be implemented allowing clinicians to capture and share information in real-time, and patients who want access to outpatient letters digitally will be able to do so via mobile devices.
Diagnostic requests: a joined-up network approach with modern systems capable of managing laboratories more safely and securely is to support pathology and imaging services. Staff and service users will be able to request and review diagnostic results electronically along with making blood test bookings online. Pathology and radiology services will be digitally supported to reduce manual input and the trust will expand point of care testing devices to ensure results are made available to the patient rapidly.
Medicines management: implementation of an EPMA system is to support accurate and safer prescribing. Technology is to drive efficiencies in how medicines and managed, creating a smarter process for getting the right dose of the right medication to the right patient at the right time.
Decision support: The trust will continue to roll out ‘at a glance’ screens to provide staff with summary information about their wards and patients, whilst supporting clinicians to make decisions through the introduction of accredited reference tools and guidelines. eObservation alerts are to support teams through automatic detection of patients at risk of deterioration, and patients will be provided with help and direction through a self-triage tool so that they can be directed to the most appropriate care.
Remote and assistive support: remote monitoring and assistive support solutions are to be introduced in collaboration with SaTH’s partners, and virtual appointments extended. Patients will have access and control over their information through a patient portal. In addition, the trust will continue to expand virtual wards, and care initiatives in the community such as tele-dermatology.
Asset and resource management: solutions are to be introduced to enable the trust to proactively and automatically manage resources and stock, with hardware, software and end-user devices monitored to ensure that they are fit for purpose, safe and secure through regular updates. Staff will have the flexibility to book rooms at sites across the service to help meet the needs of patients and staff alike, and patient tracking will ensure that pathways and treatment timescales are appropriate and compliant. The strategy also shares how the trust is to support the Hospital Transformation Programme, introducing real-time location services that allow them to locate their devices at any given time, and also enabling patients to check in digitally.
Business and clinical intelligence: the trust shares an ambition to develop a Performance and Business Intelligence capability to act as a reporting centre of excellence, producing standard reports and initial analysis. To do this, they will build a new data warehouse with access to data driven through supported self-service initiatives. Live data feeds will help staff prepare and plan for patient care, which will mean widening data sets to include information provided by others such as the West Midlands Ambulance Service. In addition, the trust will collaborate with partners in using data to benchmark and improve services, supporting the development and adoption of innovative, population-based, digitally-driven models of care.
Infrastructure and standards: IT infrastructure is to enable a digital-first approach, underpinning everyday activities of staff. Patient experience will be improved through increased WiFi access. Cyber security will be improved with collaborative work with partners, and capacity will be increased to hold data and open up greater flexibility for future digital opportunities.
Access and communications: The Hospital Transformation Programme is to deliver new and refurbished facilities that co-exist and operate seamlessly with legacy facilities, with technologies such as digital screens and kiosks providing interactive guidance and mapping to direct patients. The switchboard will be a focal access point for staff and patients alike, with intelligence gathered and used to drive improvements across services. Access will be inclusive, with different ways to get in touch. Finally, staff will have the opportunity to work remotely where appropriate and will be equipped with the most up-to-date tools to do their jobs effectively.
Becoming a digitally smart organisation and partner
“Revolutionising our digital workforce starts with leadership,” the strategy states. “We must ensure our digital programmes are well-led and that our Trust Board is equipped to lead digital transformation and collaboration.”
Here, actions to be put in place include investing time and energy into creating a team of well-informed clinical informaticians who will assist in delivery of transformation; investing in regular board development sessions to develop digital confidence, manage cyber security risk and achieve sustainability goals; and building a network of clinical ambassadors for digital.
The Digital Programme Team are to feed into the Trust Board, as well as the ICS digital governing bodies. In addition, board governance will be established that regularly reviews digital and data strategy, cyber security, services, delivery and risk, with focus on “meaningful metrics and targets”.
In terms of specific roles, the trust highlights a need to recruit a Clinical Nurse Information Officer, as well as extending and maturing the Chief Clinical Information Officer role.
The strategy highlights that digital plans will align with and support the ICS strategy, and states: “Our leadership will visibly advocate for digital transformation and will support staff throughout this journey.”
A number of actions are also shared around the digital workforce, including regularly assessing and gathering requirements from clinicians to proactively plan for future needs; to produce a Statement of Service to show what services the IT function will deliver to customers; to collaborative with the ICS and strategic partners to learn and develop; and to establish clear responsibilities and accountabilities including the required roles and supporting relationships needed to deliver services today and in the future.
Looking at embedding digital into the trust’s culture, the strategy notes that the trust will take actions including investing in digital champions and clinical ambassadors, establishing a digital change management programme, assessing staff confidence in digital via a survey, developing a super user programme for the EPR implementation, and building a library of FAQs around how digital works.
With regards to taking a partnership approach to digital, the trust shares how population health insights will be used to inform and develop strategies. Opportunities to engage with a variety of stakeholders including local residents, adult social care providers and the voluntary sector will be explored, and they vow to “foster, structure and promote an ethos of partnership and co-production”.
To view the strategy in full, please click here.