MPs have launched an enquiry into why digitisation is proceeding so slowly in the NHS, and what can be done to speed it up. This week’s batch of stories, however, shows that there are plenty of examples of innovation and good practice. Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership is launching a waiting list system that will improve the efficiency of appointment scheduling, while a new Laboratory Information Management System adopted by Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS pathology services will streamline processes and improve patient safety. Meanwhile the NHS Transformation Directorate’s digital productivity programme is allocating £12 million to digitisation projects, including those that automate paper-based processes or improve efficiency through real-time tracking.
Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership integrated care system (ICS) has gone live with software that enables it to track patients on the waiting list for treatment.
The software, from Insource, allows managers to see every part of the patient journey from referral to treatment waiting lists. It is being deployed across three sites and all specialties, and the data is aggregated to ICS level. The aim is to make it easier to schedule patient appointments and operations and to manage bed and theatre capacity. Patients can be prioritised according to clinical need.
The parliamentary health and social care committee has launched an enquiry to examine government progress on achieving digitisation throughout the NHS.
The Wade-Gery review last year found that the NHS was still “too far away” from achieving digital transformation. The enquiry will assess government progress on digitising health care and establish what further steps need to be taken. MPs will also consider the need to develop public trust, particularly in the area of the security of personal health data.
The committee is inviting written submissions, with a closing date of 10 June.
The NHS Transformation Directorate’s digital productivity programme has allocated £12 million to projects supporting digitisation in the NHS. It has chosen projects with a focus on automation, real-time location systems and extended reality.
The biggest chunk goes to 45 automation projects which, between them, will receive £7.5m. Processes to be automated include those in HR, finance, recruitment, admin and clinical functions. Another £2m will go to 14 organisations adopting extended reality technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality tools. Over £1.6 million is being allocated to introduce real-time location systems at 10 NHS organisations.
The remainder of the money will go to other technologies that support productivity, such as remote monitoring, digital dictation and e-rostering tools.
A new draft guideline from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that the NHS adopt a Sentimag probe to detect and treat breast cancer that has spread.
The Sentimag probe detects magnetised liquid, called Magtrace, injected into the tissue around the cancer. It tracks the fluid’s journey to show where cancer may have seeded. A surgeon can then sample or biopsy the region to check if cancer is present. If adopted, it could provider an easier way of detecting the spread of breast cancer, particularly in hospitals that lack a radiopharmacy department.
Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS pathology services are to introduce a single Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) to replace four standalone systems currently used its eight hospital sites.
The software from Citadel Health will provide a common platform for all the laboratories, linking them together. It will help optimise the use of information to improve healthcare. The project has been funded by a £10m grant awarded by NHS Digital.
The platform will synchronise the processes within the service, improving clinical decision making, patient outcomes and safety. It will also improve communication between the different laboratories, and enable seamless movement of orders and results between sites.