Sharing knowledge and opinion

Talking to each other – the answer to achieving the NHS Long Term Plan

The Long Term Plan (LTP) sets out a phased approach to support trusts in achieving industry-wide goals around improving performance, value and healthcare across the NHS. It’s helping all stakeholders keep focus and encouraging them to work together to unlock operational efficiencies and opportunities for better patient care.

Two key aspects of the LTP are integration and culture.

When it comes to integration, trusts are getting IT systems talking to each other by working with a number of specialist systems that can easily interface with a hospital’s existing PAS and pathology systems. As a result, data from multiple sources is being consolidated and a single view of a patient’s record created. This is enabling multi-disciplinary clinical teams to access information whenever there is patient interaction. It’s no longer about the NHS having one big system, it’s about there being one source of information that can be shared on a departmental, trust, regional and national level.

Culturally, staff are seeing the impact different technology is having on transforming day-to-day practices. Acceptance of the need to digitalise and the adoption of technology continues to increase, which is creating a virtuous circle. Time is being saved by removing the need to manually enter data into systems from paper-based records. The better allocation and management of resources is leading to more meaningful time being spent with patients and is allowing for the delivery of improved patient care. Never more so than within diabetes care, with patients often interacting with different clinical teams for different treatments, including their GP, inpatient specialist nurses, dietitians as well as eye and foot specialists. The importance of such collaboration will continue to grow with the rising number of diabetes patients in the UK.

There is also a big culture shift in how specialist suppliers are working together to provide advanced technology and systems to the NHS and ensure these are able to integrate with one another. Suppliers, trusts and policymakers are becoming more closely aligned in their approach, putting their commercial differences aside, to come together to improve integrated care by enabling GPs and consultants to see the same patient data. InterOpen, for example, is leading the way in forging these alliances.

Whilst it may seem that there is a lot still to do in order to reach the goals laid out in the LTP, there is much progress being made and this needs to continue and expand. Trusts should ensure they share their successes, learn from each other, and work closely with trusted partners to join up IT systems.