NHS England set to launch STP digital maturity assessment tool

Will Smart, CIO, NHS England
“I think fundamentally we need to be honest about where we find ourselves today, both in the health service and the digital space,” said Will Smart, Health and Social Care CIO in England, at the Executive Leadership Summit in London yesterday
story highlights: 

Top five takeaways:

1. Two leading non-profit health IT organisations, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), have announced an extension of their partnership outside of North America with the aim of achieving a 'global impact' in the field. 

2. Will Smart, Health and Social Care CIO for England, has revealed a tool will be developed to assess levels of digital maturity across Sustainability and Transformation Plans. More details are expected to be published at the end of March in a strategy document.

3. Rachel Dunscombe, Director of Digital at Salford Royal Group, which includes one of the 12 Global Digital Exemplars, has added the health IT environment in the UK has never been more ‘changeable’ and ‘vibrant’, which was approved by delegates.

4. Phil Colbourne, IBM Healthcare EMEA, Watson Health Imaging Director, has emphasised the radiology shortage is currently ‘untenable’ in the UK, with seven radiologists covering nearly 100,000 patients.

5. Russ Branzell, President and CEO of CHIME, concluded the morning session by adding this is the first time in history ‘all major areas of health and care systems’ now include or are dependent on an IT component.

NHS England is set to publish a strategy document at the end of the month

[London, UK] NHS England is due to announce soon that a tool will be created to assess digital maturity across Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) to identify where investment should be allocated.

Speaking at the HIMSS UK Executive Leadership Summit, Will Smart, Health and Social Care Chief Information Officer, added NHS England will also refresh the Digital Maturity Index; a strategy document is expected to be published at the end of the month.

“I think fundamentally we need to be honest about where we find ourselves today, both in the health service and the digital space,” Smart told delegates.

“From a technology perspective, we are not where we need to be yet (…) We have some excellent organisations doing great things with technology, but I think we would all agree that even the best organisations in England are some way off being close to really great organisations elsewhere,” he went on to say, adding that the current problem is that there are ‘disparate’ levels of maturity across UK trusts.

GDEs and Fast Followers updates

However, he emphasised there is a ‘real desire’ to use technology amongst clinical communities in an effort to evolve and meet new challenges while also innovating ‘around operating models’, although four critical challenges are seemingly posing significant difficulties: improving ‘providers’ digital maturity’, connecting and integrating the health and care system, ‘better use’ of data and transforming ‘digital services’.

“We really need to focus on making data flow and making it available for patients,” Smart commented.

The CIO also touched upon the Global Digital Exemplars (GDEs) scheme, adding that the NHS wants to create ’16 GDEs that are identifiably the best in the world’, although only 12 have been announced so far; Smart added that the six mental health exemplars will also be revealed soon.

However, an important part is considered to be focusing on ‘celebrating great things everyone is doing’, not only the 16 acute GDE trusts, which is why NHS England will launch a Fast Followers scheme that will include organisations that are expected to operate at ‘a level of digital maturity equivalent to HIMSS level 5 or above’, the eight-stage Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM).

‘Correlation’ between digital maturity and EMRAM scores

Senior sources have told BJ-HC last week that each GDE has been asked to recommend two potential fast follower organisations, sharing the same digital transformation vision. BJ-HC also revealed earlier this year that Taunton & Somerset, one of the 12 GDEs announced so far, have recommended Blackpool Teaching Hospitals and Wye Valley, which are both IMS Maxims customers.

Furthermore, the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will also join the scheme, nominated by Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, another GDE.

“The Trust held the inaugural meeting of the GDE Programme Board on 16th February 2017 with colleagues across the Trust and representation from NHS England and the Countess of Chester who is a fast follower to this work,” it is stated in February’s board papers.

David Maguire, King's Fund Data Analyst, told BJ-HC: "Although it was very welcome to hear more detail about NHS England's plans on how to distribute funding for digital projects in England over the next two years, it remains unclear what form the new digital maturity measure will take. If the next wave of digital investment is going to be properly guided by the recommendations of the Wachter Review, it's vital to engage with clinicians and staff within an LDR area and to ensure their views are taken into account."

BJ-HC also spoke to John Rayner, HIMSS Analytics Regional Director for Europe and Latin America, who revealed there is a ‘correlation’ between the digital maturity of Fast Followers and GDEs and their EMRAM score as a way of externally assessing their progress.

In his presentation yesterday, Smart added that in two years GDEs will be expected to operate ‘at a level of digital maturity equivalent to HIMSS level 7’, adding that the scheme has five main objectives: creating ‘a network of world class organisations which support high quality care with digital technology’, demonstrating ‘how to transform care with digital technology’, ‘shared learning with other programmes and organisations’ and ‘standard system builds, template business change/deployment approaches and common operating processes’, while also ‘improving efficiency, productivity and quality through optimising working practices’.