Case Studies

Proving that electronic delivery works – Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust (SOHT) provides healthcare in hospitals and community settings for more than 250,000 people.

With two hospital sites, a dedicated walk-in centre and 18 other community clinics and offices, controlling the creation and management of correspondence is no small task. In 2008, SOHT contracted Medisec Software to deploy their MedisecTRUST correspondence management software as the core platform for medical secretaries and clinicians.

Since then, SOHT has bolstered its toolkit by adding Medisec’s proprietary Digital Dictation solution and MedisecNET, the company’s electronic delivery system that insulates the Trust from the variety of electronic delivery methods in use.

Matt Connor, Head of Information Technology at the Trust explains: “Medisec have been intrinsic to our project work in the last few years. In fact, they have become a strategic partner in terms of achieving key objectives, particularly in relation to the Transfer of Care Initiative.”

With stringent 24 hour delivery deadlines looming, SOHT turned to Medisec to help understand the Trust’s current position. Arthur Rigby, Project Manager for the IT Team was keen to get an operational picture of how long it was taking for correspondence to be created using the Digital Dictation solution.

“I wanted to see how many dictations had been done by which consultants and on which wards. I asked Medisec what could be done and they installed their Outcome Analysis tool on my PC. 

“I was then very easily able to see who had done what. The graphs and charts produced demonstrated that Digital Dictation was being used far more than we initially thought and that encouraged rapid take up among other Consultants, Doctors and Lead Nurses.”

“The usage figures helped win people over and from there, take up really snowballed.”

With correspondence creation on the correct trajectory, it was over to Matt to look at how the Trust was performing in terms of correspondence delivery.

“Our geographical location means electronic delivery to GPs is relatively complex – so much so that we rely on two system providers. Delivery to GPs in Southport and Formby is handled by MIG (Medical Interoperability Gateway) whereas those in West Lancashire connect directly to the MedisecNet portal to access discharge letters.

“Of course, the more complex a system is, the more opportunity there is for something to go awry. However, for paperless delivery to become a viable reality, all stakeholders need to be assured that nothing will go wrong. Due to the complexity of our system, we identified a number of points along the way where delivery might fail.

“Increasingly we also sensed that our reporting was not 100% accurate, but we had no means of identifying the cause of the inaccuracies and even whether they were real or simply reporting errors.

“At this point Medisec stepped in and carried out some research work on our behalf. They contacted our GP surgeries to establish whether electronically delivered correspondence was actually reaching the surgery. From this we could determine what was causing delivery and reporting issues.

“Once we knew exactly what was being delivered and that we were able to accurately measure that, we agreed a new reporting structure with the CCG, based on when correspondence hits the delivery network rather than relying on a response from the GP surgery.”

With more robust reporting in place and the ability to pin-point where there are issues, SOHT has been able to work with their relevant suppliers to improve electronic delivery.

Matt continues: “Even though this project has identified problems that aren’t our responsibility, we’re not simply washing our hands of it. Instead we’ve got a collaborative platform to work with our other suppliers to ensure the whole process is reliable.”

For Matt, in order to meet the 24 hour delivery targets and with the grander aim of being paper free by 2020, reliability is absolutely critical.

“The idea that we will be paper free by 2020 is unthinkable until you can prove beyond doubt that electronic delivery works every time. The Medisec platform provides us with the opportunity to do just that. But interestingly it also gives us an opportunity to think about what else we can do.

“My belief is that in the next year or two we’ll be using this technology to send more than just discharge letters. I also believe that offers an incredible opportunity for further improvements. Patient information will flow quicker and it will be increasingly standardised ultimately leading to better quality and better patient care.”

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