show image

Sooraj Shah

Contributing Editor

Sooraj Shah is Contributing Editor of New Statesman Tech with a focus on C-level IT leader interviews. He is also a freelance technology journalist.

IT Leaders: NHS trust CIO David Wyndham-Lewis on the three stages of digital transformation

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust is a unique organisation, offering a mix of clinical services.

The trust focuses on mental health but doesn’t have any inpatient activity or wards. Instead it provides psychodynamic psychotherapy, and specialist services that aren’t provided in the same way anywhere else in the UK. For example, it is a key provider of family drug and alcohol court assessments, and it is the only adolescence and child gender identity services trust based in England. It also recently took over the same services for adults in the south of England.

When it comes to IT services, the man tasked with overseeing delivery is the CIO David Wyndham-Lewis. He joined the organisation at a time when it had already completed its move to a new Electronic Patient Record System (EPRS) provided by Advanced called Carenotes, which he says has left the NHS trust in an enviable position.

“[The trust] is the most paperless or paper-light you are likely to find within NHS organisations, partly because we don’t have the complexity of other mental health organisations or acute trusts – we don’t do prescribing or ward management, and are focused on patient activity meaning we’ve been able to focus on the paperless agenda more quickly,” he says.

Nearly half of the organisation’s turnover annually is in education rather than clinical activity, and according to Wyndham-Lewis the trust is “the go-to centre internationally” for those who want to enter the psychotherapy profession. It’s no wonder that the trust has invested in a new student information management system from Tribal, as it continues to take in new students.

But while these two new systems were important, Wyndham-Lewis emphasises that the technology behind them doesn’t achieve anything, but rather acts as an enabler of change within the organisation. It is for this reason that the trust has recently partnered with CA Technologies.

The trust wanted more control over the projects it had picked, and wanted to use data to back this up, and decided to use the software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based CA Project & Portfolio Management (PPM), enabling it to track, prioritise and measure the success of investment decisions.

“We looked at other products including Workfront and Teamworks but many of the other systems are focused on project delivery and collaboration – and this was only part of what we were looking for,” Wyndham-Lewis states.

What was missing, he suggests, was getting into the data that lives behind the project – particularly around project initiation.

“We wanted a tool that allowed us to affect the project in a degree of detail and bring in a consistent set of data forward for decision-making about which projects progress; the CA tool was far stronger in terms of the mechanisms by which projects are tracked,” Wyndham-Lewis says.

He adds that the the CA tool was more easily configurable to public sector best practice in regards to both regulation and following the business case guidance in the Treasury Green Book.

“The terminology used in the best practice and principles and processes were very easily mapped into CA, where as with other tools we were trying to retrofit the processes and tools to the NHS and public sector best practice – it wasn’t a clean fit,” he says.

Within the next five years the trust wants to be able to implement a scheduling system which is the equivalent of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) product but within the context of healthcare. It would work across both the health and education side of the business.

Three stages of digital transformation

Wyndham-Lewis believes that there are three main stages for the trust’s digital transformation. The first stage is where the trust considers existing clinical processes and pathways and aims to make the points of contact within these electronic. In other words, the trust can use technology to help patients without them having to come physically to the trust.

Then, he says, the trust can look at redesigning its clinical pathways so that, for example, patients could be seen more frequently but for shorter time periods – by using video as a form of communication.

The third and final stage is when the organisation is digitally mature enough to build new clinical services from the ground up, using technology as an enabler.

“With digital transformation, there is a continuum and we sit somewhere along that path in areas across the trust, but it is certainly the latter phases which would be classed as digital transformation,” he says.