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A Local And Practical Patient Care Project That Works

SynApps is a proud supporter of a big cross-sector patient medical data initiative. Gary Britnell explains why

You may have noted in our News section that SynApps is to exhibit at the upcoming Great North Care Record (GNCR) Network Event at the end of the month.

If you’re not familiar with the GNCR, then I’d like to briefly bring you up to speed, then explain why SynApps is an enthusiastic backer of the initiative.

The Great North Care Record project is a serious attempt by the NHS to use technology to improve the way patient information is shared at a local level. Its two key values: everything has to happen with patient consent, and all work is bent towards finding real, practical ways to improve patient care and to help the NHS to run more efficiently.

You may have heard those values espoused before. We’ve all observed ambitious national data sharing programmes come and go. However GNCR, by starting at a local, pragmatic level, has achieved a lot more than some of its better-publicised forebears.

For example, all of phase one of the project’s rollout is complete. In practical terms, that means over 11,000 views of GP records in participating institutions in secondary care are carried out digitally per month.

All eyes are now on phase two, which is focused on exploring how all the health and care settings involved in patient care can have the ability to instantly access and share real-time patient information.

So it seems the emphasis is consistently on delivery. Next week at Newcastle Racecourse, attendees from clinicians working across a range of healthcare settings, social care practitioners and research colleagues are coming together under one roof to share ideas about how the Great North Care Record can improve patient care. We’re looking forward to presentations from senior healthcare policymakers and experts, as well as NHS Trust chief executives from across the North East.

The bottom line is that we have a digital patient-sharing programme that is making progress in the NHS, and that’s something we all need to applaud. And learn from and share best practice out of.

See you in Newcastle?

That’s why SynApps, a veteran of data sharing in the NHS and a trusted supplier of clinical content support to multiple NHS Trusts will be at the Great North Care Record (GNCR) Network Event (November 28).

If you want to come along and meet SynApps, please get in touch at info@synapps-solutions.com. **Also, don’t miss your chance to win two Amazon Echos, kindly provided by key technology partner Alfresco.**

By the same token, if you are a UK healthcare professional don’t forget to get your free place here.

Gary is SynApps Solutions’ Head of Healthcare

Synapps To Exhibit At Key Networking Event For Clinicians On The GNCR Topic

We will shortly be exhibiting at the The Great North Care Record (GNCR) network launch event late this month.

The event for health care clinicians, scheduled for Newcastle Racecourse, NE2 5PH on Tuesday, November 28, 9am-1pm, aims to bring together clinicians (working across a range of healthcare settings), social care practitioners and research colleagues to share ideas about how the Great North Care Record can improve patient care, and which SynApps is delighted to be a part of.

Come along to our stand to find out more about how SynApps Health Practice can assist you in managing data.

The Great North Care Record project is all about improving the way patient information is shared, with patient consent, as a way to improve care and helping the NHS to run more efficiently.

To secure your free place at the Newcastle GNCR event, please click here

Bridging The Digital Policing Gap With Tech-Enabled Evidence Management

SynApps’ Joint MD Mark Winstone has been troubled by HMIC’s recent assessment of just how much Forces are struggling with the mounting digital evidence backlog

“Digital forensic capability and capacity is not keeping up with demand… variation in the extent to which forces have backlogs in digital examinations… the Police service is still learning how to make best use of digital engagement… We have seen a greater range of problems and weaknesses in crime investigation and offender management than last year, including the ability to retrieve digital evidence from digital devices such as mobile phones and laptops.”

A harsh assessment.

The words aren’t mine. They’re from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, which in March published a hard-hitting probe into how behind too many regional Forces actually are.

Two of the biggest problems the HMIC identified in delivering PEEL, (Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy): insufficient internal capacity or capability (skills) stopping teams getting to grips with digital investigative opportunity. It’s not just skills, it’s a lack of resource and efficient processes; the Inspectorate says that there were no less than 16,000 digital devices (mobile phones or laptops) awaiting examination for live cases. Thankfully, the majority, 75% of them had been sitting on shelves for less than three months – but 5% had been languishing for over 12.

The report gives credit where credit is due, saying that management knows this backlog is harmful, and is trying to throw overtime and outsourcing at the problem. But the report says this is unsustainable long term, and a better approach would be to embrace new technologies in order to create new workflows to stop these blockages building up.

“Most forces have not yet explored fully the use of new and emerging techniques and analysis to direct operational activity at a local level,” the report states.

“Innovative analytical techniques should be used to help the service make decisions about where to target resources,” it goes on.

Action has to be taken – and now

The problem is that this isn’t the first time we’re going to hear this advice – nor probably the last.

Only last November, ACPO and the National Police Chiefs’ Council issued an imaginative set of proposals, Policing Vision 2025, which said staff skills would be boosted, digital evidence shared more effectively and there should be more digital recording and analysis of online crime, delivered through better sharing of back office resources, integration/consolidation of systems and improved analytical capabilities of team members.

The message of both the HMIC and Policing Vision 2025 studies is that the service knows that digital is here, knows that there’s pressure to do something about it – but that hard-pressed Chief Inspectors need some practical help to move forward.

SynApps can help address the digital evidence challenge

We’ve been hearing this message from our many Force users. Which is why we’ve been working to help.

You’ll be aware that we’ve been making headway on integrated tools to help Police transition to the new era of fully Digital Justice with our Evidence Management platform.

If any of the problems identified by the Inspectorate are true for your Force, our team are ready today to help bridge the gap from where you are now to the kind of digital Policing stakeholders and the public want.

Mark

Mark Winstone is Joint CEO and Sales & Marketing Director at SynApps Solutions

Post WannaCry, It’s Time To Think Of A Better Future


As the worst of the NHS Ransomware crisis fades, it’s time to try and take stock of what happened.

Firstly, SynApps Solutions is very concerned, and is here to help any NHS Trust or other healthcare organisation still struggling to beat off the WannaCry malware infection. As a proud supplier of information technology solutions to the national health Service, we were appalled by this vicious cyber attack, and our team is here to offer any advice needed over and above that provided by NHS Digital and NHS England to get you back up and safe.

However once the immediate aftermath is over, we have to think, as an IT community, about what to do to ensure it can’t ever disrupt our hospitals and GP surgeries again.

The key to that has to be modernisation. It’s definitely time to upgrade hospital architecture, and this is a problem that needs the joint, smart thinking and collaboration of the NHS, the Department of Health, the supplier base – and ultimately, the government.

All these stakeholders need to pull together to rebuild patient and citizen trust in our resilience and stability. There will be a financial aspect to this, ultimately. The XP holdover happened because both the government and many CCIOs just didn’t want to spend money. It’s tempting to stick to such platforms, as you will want to sweat the asset and extract as much value from it as you can over time – and, as we all know, the NHS has huge budgetary pressures these days.

But as the crisis has shown, it’s a false economy to keep putting off replacement of IT. It’s effectively leaving a back window open in your system stack that a malicious ill-wind like WannaCry can blow into. So, let’s address that.

Standards and great software design will help

We need to fix this because we’re just not going to get any real traction to what we all want, which is a digital-empowered NHS.

The good news is that no SynApps VNA or Integrated Digital Care Record clients were affected this month. That’s because content (be it DICOM image files or patient records) stored in ECM (Enterprise Content Management) platforms are protected against attack in multiple ways. For a start, content is stored in the server and separated from the desktop; so unlike with a mounted network drive, attack at the desktop level, in the style of WannaCry ransomware, would only affect temporary, local, copies and not have an impact of the master files stored in the server.

Even better, ECM version control always allows the roll back of any corrupted file to a proper version, so should an end user mistakenly upload a corrupted file the system can revert, safely, to where it should be. And finally, encryption at rest will stop any unauthorised access to the content

Another advantage of ECM-powered NHS suites will be their sound design. Written to the latest software engineering best practice metrics, and in our case firmly adhering to important international standards like CDA, it’s just a much safer bet to put your faith into something like this than an archaic, obsolete platform.

Perhaps it’s a bit too soon for some of you to be thinking like this, but ultimately we have to re-stabilise NHS IT and ensure it’s bulletproof from now on.

Look to ECM as one way to do just that. It can really help.

Gary Britnell
Head of SynApps Healthcare Practice

Jeremy Hunt’s Dismissal Of A Paperless NHS Target Shouldn’t Detract Us From The Goal

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“I am quite relieved that most people seem to have forgotten that I made that promise.”

A lot of us working in NHS IT were quite surprised to hear that claim from the Health Secretary.

The promise Jeremy Hunt was referring to was nothing less than the directive from the Department of Health for us all to work to in order to become fully paperless by 2018.

To quote respected public sector ICT site diginomica’s write up of the Secretary’s appearance before the NHS Sustainability Committee, ‘The paperless NHS by 2018 challenge was announced by the Health Secretary back in 2013. Somewhere along the line this got pushed back to paperless by 2020. However, following a review by Professor Bob Wachter of the University of California, which stated that the 2020 target was also “likely to fail”, it is now thought we are looking at at least 2023 before the ambition is realised’.

Hunt told MPs that he “made big, bold statements about” going paperless, admitting he’d perhaps “rather bravely said I wanted the NHS to be paperless by 2018 in my first few months as Health Secretary”. (Hunt made the admission to the Committee in a closed December meet – the remarks were only made public last week.)

2018 might well be a realistic target for some ambitious Trusts

The problem for some us is that the sector took the plan to become fully digital very seriously.

After all a paper-free NHS was a route of travel that at one time featured its own special section on the DoH website, was regularly discussed by Jeremy Hunt and senior stakeholders in NHS England – and Trust IT managers had to find ways to deliver against it [https://www.gov.uk/government/news/jeremy-hunt-challenges-nhs-to-go-paperless-by-2018—2]. Only last year, Hunt announced that he had received an extra £4bn to help Trusts get there.

The good news is that the promise of going digital hasn’t being forgotten by Hunt or NHS England – it’s just been pushed out further, as we try and action some of the Digital Exemplar and other items that came out of last September’s Wachter Review.

Hunt did confirm all this in his Committee appearance and there’s lots of great progress being made. After all, it would be a false economy to scrap the target if it’s anything to do with saving money on IT as paper is far more expensive in the long term.

We know. We are seeing it every day with our NHS clients, who are achieving great things with content management in cutting down the paper chain and achieving the kind of benefits that the 2013 set of objectives called for.

That doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to do in terms of getting to paperless. Although a lot of digital format medical and patient data is starting to circulate between some parts of the local health system, even some of it as far as A&E, it’s not yet flowing as well as it could be inside the Trust as a whole.

We’re a bit disappointed with the Health Secretary for being a bit flippant about something we take very seriously.

But that hasn’t lessened the commitment we have as an NHS IT supplier to the goal of a digital, joined up NHS.

And some of us will get there in 2018.

Now that’s the kind of big, bold statement I like.

Gary Britnell
Head of the Healthcare Practice
SynApps Solutions UK

How Our Police Are Successfully Adapting To A Changing World

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I would like to discuss some of the interesting work we are doing in the law enforcement sector. Some recent trends highlight very well the kind of route of travel that British Policing is heading in, and which we are increasingly relevant to.

The first is the rise of the digital aspect of crime. The authorities report that cybercrime activity is both “growing fast” and “evolving”, with the threats from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and ransomware attacks increasing significantly in 2015, for example. This danger is recognized at Cabinet level, with the government announcing a National Cybersecurity Strategy, which will see HMG investing no less than £1.9 billion in “defending our systems and infrastructure, deterring our adversaries, and developing a whole society capability”, to quote Chancellor Philip Hammond.

The setting up of the country’s National Crime Unit in 2013 is one sign of this, with the body actively engaged in providing a powerful and highly visible investigative response to the most serious incidents of cybercrime, pursuing cybercriminals at not just the national but the international level.

To single out one incident, the Agency said it broke a malware ring in November that may have carried out money laundering to the extent of more than £11m, through hundreds of accounts at various UK banks, using false identity documents and ‘money mules’ recruited and controlled by the crime group. The NCA suggests this kind of organized digital crime is on the rise.

Local, not just national

This work is being done at the individual Force level too. As a recent piece in The Telegraph from Boeing pointed out, “UK police forces must address these new threats and at the same time tackle age-old law-and-order offences, disputes and disturbances of the peace… [so] Forces are turning to cutting-edge technology to move the odds in their favour.”

A great example is body-worn cameras, a technology that will allow the Police to address community concerns about invasive techniques, potentially reallocate resources to more productive tasks, but also provide useful video evidence for trials. “Body-worn video will support our officers in the many challenging situations they have to deal with, at the same time as building the public’s confidence,” pointed out the Met when it launched its own major deployment of this technology to 22,000 uniformed officers last October.

Last but not least, the setting up of a national, unified Police ICT Company for the UK in March 2015 means that useful technology like body-worn cameras and other digital aids come much higher up the agenda for the sector than ever before. Under the governance and ownership of police and crime commissioners (PCCs), the Company is already producing useful overall strategy for Chief Constables around digital, as well as acting as a better procurement vehicle for the community, saving money and achieving economies of scale in dealing with suppliers.

I think you’ll agree that there’s a lot of positive change happening in the UK Police area, changes driven by the rise of hostile forces like cyber fraudsters but also by the willingness of society as a whole to accept a more digital aspect to traditional public safety and legal work.

This context of change is what’s driving some of the work we’re carrying out with multiple Forces.

To find out more about how SynApps can assist your Force in managing data, get in touch.

You can also read our most recent article on the new integrated SynApps-delivered digital interview solution, here

Mark Mark Winstone is SynApps Solutions’s joint Chief Executive Officer, as well as its Sales & Marketing Director

24 Hours In Tomorrow’s Digital Police Station

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Mark Winstone reveals another exciting solution for the public sector SynApps is working on with its customers – this time, in the Police sector

I want to briefly talk to you about some work we’re doing in one of our core markets, that of Police, which we’ve worked in for about seven or eight years now. I can’t go into as much detail as I’d like to, as some of the specifics are still being worked out. So what I can say is fairly ‘top level’ – but suggestive of the route of travel here.

It’s an interesting route of travel. Rather like the exciting work we’ve talked about in the NHS, it’s about us helping real-world organisations on the policing frontline solve real problems with our content management technology. And like that NHS work, it’s early days – but we think we’re on to something deeply practical.

What we’re trying to be practical about is the problem of time. The Police are always watching the clock when they get a suspect to the station, and it’s a clock that can’t be bargained with, either. If you’ve seen 24 Hours In Police Custody, this will be familiar to you.

The basic issue is that the Police have only so long to work with a suspect. Under the law, the Police can only hold someone for up to 24 hours before they have to charge them with a crime or release them (though they can apply to hold an individual for up to 36 or 96 hours if they’re suspected of a serious crime, e.g. murder, and you can be held without charge for up to 14 days If you’re arrested under the Terrorism Act (see here).

That sounds like a long time, but it isn’t; a case needs to be assembled, witnesses interviewed, as well as the suspect with their solicitor, and so on. Now, don’t think all anyone wants here is to press charges. Bringing cases to trial that can’t be won is a waste of time and resources; quickly having solid proof that this is the wrong line of enquiry gets the police back out on the beat quicker than finding the actual culprit; keeping someone in a cell for longer than they need is expensive and unhelpful. Accurate Policing is better for everyone – and quick and accurate is best of all.

Looking after digital evidence right is best for all of us, when you think about it

But what’s been really dogging many Forces is the added, needless complication of processing the digital evidence component of all this.

That matters, as digital evidence is becoming more and more central to modern law enforcement. As we move into an era of even more CCTV, body worn cameras on officers, evidence gathered by iPhone or digital camera, etc., then we’re going to have to find ways to properly manage, store and, crucially, search and properly label and timestamp, such digital evidence – for both the Police, the Courts and, critically, for all of us as digital citizens.

At the same time, in March the Home Office published a set of proposals for modern Police effectiveness that highlighted the growing importance of the electronic aspect of investigation and the need for “a comprehensive and joined up programme of digital transformation across policing” (see Modern Crime Prevention Strategy).

But if you have a system where you are trying to share files on DVD, manually, then this is time consuming and costly taking officers away from front line policing – which is not doing the best for the safety of the public or enabling officers to get better outcomes during an investigation. You’re also not doing the job the taxpayer really deserves if you aren’t efficiently storing or managing evidence, which may of course become crucial months, even years, down the line if there’s a break in a cold case or allegation of injustice. You want good chain of evidence, ideally from the first time the authorities get involved to historic file evidence, from a digital fingerprint to sound and video recordings of interviews, and so on: this is no less than we’re all entitled to expect in 2017, as it’s the most efficient way of delivering real 21st-century justice.

SynApps: the public sector partner

So better ways of working with digital evidence is something wanted by both Forces (as management of such evidence is their responsibility), the CPS and the government (in the shape of the Home Office and its agencies). And this is where modern content management comes in, in the shape of what SynApps and our tech partners can offer, as ECM is what is needed here to capture, move, search, store and systematically archive such important material.

I’m delighted to say that very soon just such a solution will be on the market. It’s a new integrated SynApps-delivered digital interview solution that we’ve developed for one Force that is being evolved into a full evidence management system in collaboration with some other technology partners.

Together with the great work we’re doing for the NHS around IDCR, the work SynApps is doing in digital Policing underlines how much we support the public sector, as well as how much our approach solves genuine problems here too.

Mark

Mark Winstone is Joint SynApps CEO and Sales & Marketing Director