Author Archives: Carina Birt

How the market finally caught up with the Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) promise

I hope you spotted the great news that came in at the end of last month that the most trusted name in the IT commentary world, Gartner, rated us extremely highly in that part of the market known as the VNA.

VNA is not the sexiest term for a technology ever, I’ll grant you – but actually, it’s a really important tool and one that could really help a lot of people.

That’s because the name – it stands for ‘Vendor-Neutral Archive’ – doesn’t really convey what its power or potential actually is. We know – we’ve been marketing some excellent VNA solutions, especially for the NHS market, for a number of years now, and the vagueness of that name has perhaps not been to its help.

Why? Because NHS buyers see the VNA as in, essence, a medical device… it’s a bit of software that is good for storing my medical imaging data, specifically all the PACS and DICOM data that I needed to find a safe and secure home for when the old off-site PACS storage NPfIT contracts came to an end in 2015.

Which it is – a VNA is a fantastic way to store very large data files and access them really easily. But that was never what a VNA was only supposed to do. That’s because, out of the gate, you had this really cool XDS tech built into it – XDS standing for ‘Cross Enterprise Document Sharing’.

Why XDS is so useful is that it is a standards-based way to work with multiple forms of content, of all different types. That means that a VNA isn’t actually just a place to stick big X-ray image files, though please carry on doing so… it’s actually an Enterprise or Document Management System.

Why should I care, I hear you thinking? Well, a VNA might not be a whole lot of use to a manufacturer, a retailer or a financial services CIO.

But if you are

  • an NHS CCIO or CIO trying to help colleagues in different departments
  • and/or an NHS CCIO or CIO tasked with helping connect records with other stakeholders
  • a local authority social care team looking to join up information on vulnerable or elderly patients to help address their complex, cross-team needs
  • a GP surgery looking for better ways to document the patient journey
  • a CCG committed to more paperless ways of working with patient data
  • a policymaker in an NHS England STP (Sustainability and Transformation Project) interested in the power of digital to revolutionise patient care

Well, then – yes – what a VNA can do suddenly becomes absolutely central. How: because it’s the proven, available and tested way to keep all patient data – from notes to prescription charges to medical imagery to social care interactions – in one place.

And from cradle to archiving – across multiple stakeholders.

In that Gartner report, that route of travel has been clearly signaled. The good news is that here at SynApps Solutions, we spotted the potential for this years back, and have accumulated relevant expertise and intelligence on doing just this kind of Super-VNA work (and have some significant trails underway to make a VNA-based Shared Care Record a reality – an in months, not years).

It’s brilliant to see that Gartner has caught up with us – but we’re not boasting, we’re just saying that we are ready whenever you are.

Let’s work together to make VNA do what you and your patients and service users really need it to.

Chris Brice is SynApps Solutions’ Director of Sales and Marketing

IDCR: A great new way to help clinicians via a single view of a patient’s complete medical history

Chris Brice catches us all up SynApps’ work to help NHS and local authorities’ better share key medical information

As many of you are aware, SynApps is one of the leading providers to the NHS of a very special and actually highly desirable solution called the Integrated Digital Care Record, the SynApps IDCR.

IDCR is a solution that encompasses everything that every NHS Trust, and an increasing number of local authorities, across the UK are trying to achieve – being able to provide a cradle to archive view of a patient, finally joining up all the different back office systems that a physician needs to access to give us a total view of that patient.

More importantly, this can be extended to include not just the information within an NHS Trust, but also a GP system in a local government/external stakeholder Shared Care Record scenario – enabling a clinician, or any approved person who has access to medical records, to see everything that relates to a person, from when they were born to an archive scenario.

An open, highly functional, approach

The IDCR is an enabler to allow access to all these different systems. Ultimately it will become your integrated digital care record for easy secure access across the NHS and beyond.

Why? Because it’s designed to allow all relevant stakeholders, including social care, local authorities, clinicians and GPs, to access your clinical record or social care record. And as it’s architected to be a simple open source, open product that allows you to log in through a portal and then have access to all of the information, it’s revolutionary – and at the moment, we believe we are the only provider who can delivery this on demand. Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIOs) in the NHS that we’ve talked to tell us they want a single view of all information irrespective of what system if comes from or where that system is, and what make this really interesting is this includes external systems too.

Our solution, then, will allow you to have a single view from any device, anytime from anywhere, from of all of the multiple, different systems, including any case notes or paper that’s been scanned. It can also provide a tracking system to overcome some real issues organisations are having with the referral to treatment (RTT) pathway that means you the patient has to be seen within a certain period of time – something all Trusts, of course, have to monitor, report on and is mandated against with significant fines if they miss their targets.

The SynApps IDCR provides a total view of any GP notes, any x-rays, any illness or ailment you’ve ever had where you’ve had engagement with the social care system, you’ve had engagement with the GP, with an NHS Trust, all displayed in a single view, in a timeline view – which means it’s a really  secure means of providing that real time link to  a patient or citizen or somebody who’s in social care in one single view and could also track where they are in the process.

Save resource

At the moment most Trusts are running over 90% of their referral targets – which sounds like a very high percentage, but the reality is, the ones that fall out are where you see horrible negative local or national press… yeah, the terrible times somebody who should have been seen because they had a serious cancer wasn’t seen, or they got missed for some reason and actually died.

Failing to address this means there’s a huge risk that you’ll miss your NHS compliance targets… and if you miss those targets, you could potentially receive significant fines or even worse go into special measures and all that that implies.

It could also save you a lot of resource, time too; by providing integrated digital care record and a RTT pathway tracking system rather than a validation system, – going from 30 to 40 people down to maybe three or four people to track, not validate, how this works.

Got to make sense, right? If you agree – drop me a line and let’s see how we can get an IDCR to help you with some of your heavy lifting!

Chris Brice is SynApps Solutions’ Director Sales & Marketing

SynApps Cited as Key Player in Gartner’s Market Guide for Vendor Neutral Archives (VNAs)

November 26th, 2018 – SynApps Solutions today announced that it has been included in Gartner’s Market Guide for Vendor Neutral Archives (VNAs), November 2018.  Citing a dozen or so key suppliers, the new guide targets healthcare CIOs looking to understand the VNA proposition, market direction and notable vendors.

Gartner defines the vendor-neutral archive as a standards-based, interoperable, patient-centric medical image management platform.

Citing customers including Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital, Croydon University Hospital, Kingston Hospital and Northampton General Hospital, the report describes SynApps’ VNA as a flexible platform supporting a broad base of content types extending to both DICOM and non-DICOM, so clinicians can access all related content.

The SynApps VNA offers increased flexibility because it’s been built on an open, standards-based enterprise content management platform (ECM), so it can be used to securely store and organise all kinds of content – not just medical images.  This same flexibility extends to its use as a community engagement platform for a shared care record, opening up access to GPs, CCGs and Local Government.

Speaking of the company’s inclusion in the report, SynApps Solutions’ director of sales and marketing, Chris Brice said, “We are delighted to be recognised alongside major market vendors as a key player in the VNA market. The SynApps VNA has been built on an open, standards-based enterprise content management platform, so it can be used to securely store and organise all kinds of content – not just medical images. It can be integrated with any number of different applications and data sources too, including electronic patient records.  This flexibility and openness has served us well and considered a key benefit by our clients.”

Find out more about the SynApps VNA here or contact Chris directly on chris.brice@synapps-solutions.com

From FOI to Keep Fit: Why You Need a Community Engagement Platform

SynApps has started to work with key customers on a very exciting new frontier in local government – digital outreach

Local authorities are very good at dealing with their service users on social care or benefits: they know who they are, they’ve got systems to deal with it.

But what they’re not doing so well is addressing the greater or wider community… which is a problem, as UK local government now has a much bigger remit to engage with residents.

We think we may have something to help – what we’re calling our new community engagement platform that can join up all your different departments that might want to engage with the community and provide a really, easy platform to connect all of your teams internally as well and reach out to the wider community.

The best way of explaining is this: if you or I make a FOI (Freedom of information) request to our local Town Hall, it would likely struggle to provide information back within the 21 days that’s required, because it has several separate departments, run by separate teams, all running separate software systems – and they have to go through a physical ring round, email round type of check to be able to respond to our FOI request.

Clearly, it would be much better if I make an inquiry, be it FOI or ask about where I can park my bike on my next big jaunt across the local terrain, that I get pointed to a portal or website where I can find the information I am looking for as well as check what information the council holds on me, which of course has to be available to me as part of the new GDPR compliance regulations.

Great for me – I get my biking info. But it’s also great I argue, for the authority, too. What’s happening now is that the local council has to engage with the NHS. More and more have responsibility for the local CCG too, as well as GP practices. They also have a social care system, they work with the emergency services, probably the local University level, too.

My point? Community engagement is about not just linking the council’s internal systems, but having the ability to share this information across the whole local area. A good example is a council currently working with us to build a properly linked-up, self-service solution that allows me, the citizen, to look at my council information, look at my NHS record, look at my GP system record and, if I’m in a social care environment –  look at that information, too.

And it can go further. How about allowing the local authority to advertise events and things going on in its community every time I log in.  It can also ask me questions like, what are your hobbies, what sorts of sports do you do, what are your interests? And, if I pick boxes, it will then start to feed me information on those things.

A big driver here could be the Keep Fit and Healthy regime councils are now being mandated to deliver. Just think about how great it would be to combine all of that content into one place.

We think this solution is a great way to engage with your community and deliver relevant, up to date, information, and I hope you have a minute or two to check out some more of the detail here, or by dropping me a line at chris.Brice@synapps-solutions.com.

Digital Case Management: Why it’s A Lot More Than Just Giving Social Workers iPads

SynApps has growing interest from the UK social care sector for its new digital case management offering

When it comes down to it, digital case management is basically a means of managing the ingestion – the capture – of case files for social workers by multiple means, including email, self-service scan stations, MFDI copiers (as well as back-scanning archives), and then pushing that information through a workflow.

What do I mean by workflow? Well, it’s a structured business process to properly capture the important information and then file it centrally, safely and digitally into an ECM repository, for example.  Then providing a series of alerts that not only notify the key members of the social care team about what they need to know, but with built-in escalation and an SLA that allows every case file to be managed and monitored to help you with a very key area of compliance – the Ofsted Inspection.

Overcoming paper

Our work here often involves a scenario where you have four hundred-plus social workers, a number of NHS Trusts, multiple GP practices but all working off a paper store of information. That means that every time a social worker goes out to meet a new potential client, they have to request information and that information is then delivered as a paper file.

For sure, what we’re looking to do is replicate that with an electronic version – so, rather than carrying a huge file and having to make notes via paper in front of any potential social care person,  it’s all digital – you scan everything, ingest it (i.e. capture emails), file any Word or Office documents and then, by searching the content repository, pull it together into a simple electronic document, then be able to take the case file on site, carry out the work they have to do and update the file electronically.

This is great – and a big advance for many a social work team compared to where they are today. For sure we are not the first to attempt this – there are lots of systems on the market already claiming to help at the sharp end like this. But what we’re doing that we think is better, is automating the end to end process and securely filing all of the case file information in order into a central repository and then integrating it with your whole social care system.  Now you can start to really reap some benefits.

End to end automation

Now, when a social care worker logs into their social care system, the complete case file is available in front of them – and you have the beginnings of a truly ‘end to end’ view of the whole case file; with all the information relating to this particular person – including their NHS or GP record, and social care record.  It’s all available in a dashboard, with any new information updated automatically in real-time and yes, your team has access to that information on an iPad and/or Android device.

It’s no longer a paper-based system, it’s a completely automated, electronic system – which offers real cost and labour savings, better record keeping for compliance and a way to improve the overall quality of your council’s service delivery, and genuine overall improvement in a very key, but often very financially strained, core process.

I think it’s pretty powerful stuff. Take some time to explore it more here or drop me an email at chris.Brice@synapps-solutions.com.

Thanks, and speak soon!

Chris Brice came on board as our new Director of Sales and Marketing here at SynApps Solutions Ltd back in May

Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals Moving To Digital Care With SynApps

Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWBH) has recently introduced digital content management for its medical records, determined to make sharing medical data easier and more practical. The project is based on content management platform from Alfresco, implemented and project managed by SynApps Solutions.

SWBH is a busy, multi-site NHS entity. In the past financial year alone, it handled 199,437 attendances at A&E, 650,000 community contacts and 526,945 out-patient appointments. Clearly, information and its correct routing matter a great deal at SWBH. To put that in context: in the month of January 2017, the Trust moved no fewer than 35,000 individual patient records around teams internally. The problem: those documents were moved by four-wheeled trolleys – not digitally.

For The Trust’s chief informatics officer, Mark Reynolds, the motivation behind the digital content management project is clear – it’s all about  “helping make information sharing a lot smoother”.

It’s early days at SWBH for this new way of working – but Reynolds adds, “In terms of what clinicians do, the benefit is very marked with those 35,000 records move around electronically, not manually, finally.”

Read our full blog on this great SynApps NHS success here

Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals Move To EPR And Digital Working

 

 

 

Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWBH) has recently embarked on a significant digital transformation project

The aim in healthcare is for patient care to be provided seamlessly and with continuity across any combination of service providers – from acute and mental health Trusts to community GP practices and pop-up clinics all the way out to caregivers out in the field.

Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust (SWBH) is a busy, multi-site organisation. In the past financial year alone, it handled 199,437 attendances at A&E, 650,000 community contacts and 526,945 out-patient appointments. Clearly, information and its correct routing matters a great deal at SWBH. To put that in context: in the month of January 2017 alone, the Trust moved no fewer than 35,000 individual patient records around the institution.

SWBH has recently introduced a digital content management approach to medical records, aiming to make sharing medical data easier and more practical. The approach uses a content management platform from Alfresco, while being implemented and project managed by SynApps Solutions.

The Trust’s chief informatics officer, Mark Reynolds, explains some of the motivation behind the project. “We’re helping make information sharing a lot smoother via a set of changes that will eventually get us to a full EPR (electronic patient record). That’s going to happen in 2018, and it will set us up for the opening of new facilities the year after. However, what we are currently engaged in is a move to an increasingly paperless way of working to help build the foundations for that future.”

The trust is currently digitising the new documents that come through its doors. “This isn’t a project about making all of our archives paperless, but a way to make the Trust more nimble and EPR-ready,” adds Reynolds.

Advantages of this approach include valuable early benefits – freeing up office space on its sites as paper storage starts to become less important. SWBH is also able to redeploy some of its admin staff who would have been tending all that paper.

To achieve this, SWBH decided on a very pragmatic Open Source approach. This brings advantages in terms of commitment – such freeware can be adopted on a zero-cost basis with a view to a bigger commitment when commercially viable. The Trust also wanted to only work with a supplier who had sold into the NHS, and so would understand its issues and not need any hand-holding.

The Alfresco content management system to manage digital content, implemented by SynApps, met those criteria, and SWBH was happy to start the records digitisation project with those partners.

The right decision

It’s early days at SWBH for this new way of working. “Although our case note scanning project was not without its difficulties, we are now at a stable state where digital documents are the norm and not the exception. It’s a good lead-in for our new EPR as staff are becoming more accustomed to digital case notes.”

“In terms of what clinicians do, the benefit is very marked – those 35,000 records move around electronically, not on trolleys, finally.”

In terms of addressing our information archives, Reynolds sees that as a longer-term project that can be progressed in partnership with the Trust’s records supplier. “We decided that the best use of our resources was on the new medical documentation and getting that digitised first – and I think our results show that this was the right approach.”

The author is Chief Informatics Officer at Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals (SWBH) NHS Trust