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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 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

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