Tags: ECM

Tackling the referred pain of digital patient referrals

As NHS England mandates that faxed referrals are phased out, and trusts look to alleviate the grind of manually re-entering details between different IT systems, SynApps Solutions’ Chris Brice charts a practical, pain-free way to exploit NHS Digital’s e-RS referrals service more fully – which delivers for patients, trusts and NHS budgets

On the face of it, NHS trusts are already making progress with electronic patient referrals. Steadily, GPs and patients are defaulting to the NHS Digital’s e-Referrals portal which will soon be mandatory for primary care referrals, to guarantee payment for services. Yet, although this is widely understood – and despite an appreciation that referrals by fax, email or other manual means are not efficient or easy to trace – a large majority of patient referrals are still being handled using complex, time-consuming workarounds. Even where requests are channelled via the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS).

This undermines the purpose of the NHS e-RS, which is designed not only to provide a single central digital platform for capturing and coordinating patient referrals, but also to streamline associated processes, speed up treatment, and provide reliable traceability of a patient’s progress and status.

So what is preventing total take-up of the broader digital experience – where referrals pass quickly to the right person, and targets of faster patient diagnoses and treatment are met?

The issue is two-fold.

First, NHS Digital hasn’t yet developed its own workflow-driven applications to make it easy to pass referrals through the system automatically and track and report on progress.

Second, the diversity of IT systems used by GPs and hospitals has proved a barrier to integration. As a result, primary care providers have resorted to faxing and emailing referrals. For their part, hospitals have printed and scanned those requests, manually re-entering and tallying these with patient records held elsewhere on their systems. Rather than accelerating case flow-through or alleviating administrative workloads, this has often created more work and delay. It is not unusual for a trust to be manually re-entering details of 15,000 referrals per month. Some major trusts accept up to 50,000 patient referrals daily.

Joining the dots

For the NHS e-Referrals programme to have its intended impact, digital processes need to be joined up end to end. Then they can start to exploit intelligent automated workflow. That includes prompt diversions of cases to more appropriate specialists or services (inside or beyond the immediate hospital); and complete traceability and reporting – with rules-driven alerts, to ensure that no case enters an administrative cul-de-sac or slips through the cracks, and that critical performance targets are not missed.

All Acute trusts are aware that the current piecemeal situation cannot continue. As of 2020, faxed referrals will no longer be accepted, and NHS services already face the prospect that they will not be paid for referrals accepted through any channel besides the e-RS portal. So trusts and their primary care practitioners might as well ensure that the e-RS leads to perceptible benefits for staff and patients.

Fortunately, approved NHS Digital development partners SynApps Solutions and Alfresco have already put in the groundwork to deliver end-to-end electronic referrals solutions. These offer trusts all of the integration; rules-based workflow; process automation; monitoring, prompting and reporting required to fully harness the benefits of digitising patient referrals.

From electronically capturing patient requirements and connecting these to patient records; to accelerating the triage process and clinicians’ acceptance/refusal/redirection of referrals; to vigilantly monitoring, prompting and reporting on referral-to-treatment progress, our combined, modular solutions are designed to extract maximum early benefits from NHS Digital’s e-Referrals initiative for everyone concerned.

The expected benefits are substantial – including efficiency gains of 60-70 per cent compared with manually processing, checking and following up on referrals and progress to treatment.

And that’s aside from the benefits to patient safety, as cases are proactively tracked and escalated thanks to automated rules in the system. Robust compliance and performance measures, meanwhile, will help ensure that trusts are paid in full and within acceptable timeframes for the cases they have accepted.

None of this needs to be an upheaval or costly exercise for trusts, either. Our solutions can be run in the cloud as well as on premise, and there are significant grants available for trusts ready to make the full transition now. Funding is applicable especially where organisations come together on joint projects, in line with NHS England’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan. Each trust can go at its own pace too, or prioritise how it tackles its respective migration to a fully digital referrals scenario. That’s because the SynApps Solutions/Alfresco solution suite is modular, offering trusts the flexibility to concentrate on just the capabilities they seek right now.

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

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

SynApps Partners With GeoLang

Maidenhead, UK, 2 October 2017 – Content management leader SynApps Solutions has today announced a partnership with UK based cyber security solution providers GeoLang in a deal to achieve true synergy between Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and leading-edge security.

GeoLang is the company behind the award-winning Ascema platform, software that provides an easily deployable, next generation DLP (data loss prevention) and classification solution. Ascema can detect where high value data resides within File Servers and Endpoints, plus protect and remediate on data as it flows around enterprise authorised applications on premise and in the cloud.

This deal will help the evolution to cloud, say the partners. That’s because as more organisations start to exploit IT services via this method, the need to know where data resides and to be able to protect it is paramount. It’s also growing, as the UK Data Protection Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation come into force next May.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the team at the leading edge UK tech firm, and we’re really impressed by the team’s deep expertise,” notes SynApps Solutions’ Joint CEO, Mark Winstone.

“Thanks to this strategic partnership, our clients will be able to strengthen their security and better safeguard their digital content management assets against growing security threats.”

GeoLang’s CEO, Dr Debbie Garside, adds, “As part of our ongoing market expansion strategy we are looking to grow our relationships with specialist partners such as SynApps who really understand the enterprise content management space.

“We are excited that SynApps, a real leader specialist in British ECM market, has chosen to work with us in order to add significant value to its customer solutions set.”

SynApps Receives Strategic Partner Status With Content Services Giant Alfresco

 

 

Maidenhead, UK, 6 September, 2017 – Content management leader SynApps Solutions has received confirmation from key technology partner and content and process services leader Alfresco that it has attained coveted Strategic Partner status.

The certification process is based on a rigorous validation process by Alfresco on the amount of certified resource – at least 20 ACA or ACE level Alfresco certified consultants – an Alfresco partner can offer, plus measured sales and marketing activity and revenue plus customer satisfaction metrics.

The completion to this rigorous set of metrics means UK CEOs can have full confidence in all SynApps project management functions, from pre-sales through to project delivery and transition to support.

An open, modern, secure platform, Alfresco ECM provides a fast path for people to interact with information and for companies to respond to their changing business needs.

“We are honoured to have received this accreditation,” said SynApps Solutions’ Joint CEO, Mark Winstone.

“Our team of solution architects and delivery consultants is very strong and very committed with a drive to get the job done. That means we are the strongest in the UK for Alfresco solutions, with service expertise across strategic consultancy, implementation, content migration, training, hosting and long-term application support.

“This is an important milestone for SynApps to support our growth, underpinning our aim of always exceeding client expectations for delivery.”

About SynApps
SynApps is an independent services and solutions company specialising in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies. Founded in 2003 by former Documentum services professionals, the company provides consultancy, implementation and support services for OpenText Documentum and Alfresco, and has authored a suite of content integration solutions, ConXApps, that allow businesses to quickly maximise their investment in ECM technologies. Organisations across healthcare, government and commercial markets rely on SynApps solutions and services to capture and share knowledge more dynamically and efficiently.

Find out more at synapps-solutions.com, or follow the firm on Twitter @Synappssol

Stabilising NHS IT: How ECM Could Play A Vital Role

Ultimately we have to re-stabilise NHS IT following the WannaCry malware attack  and ensure it’s totally bulletproof from now on.

That’s the practical message from SynApps Solutions’s Head of Healthcare, Gary Britnell, who’s taken a sobering look at the situation the NHS is left in after this month’s malware attack that left many Trusts and GP surgeries offline.

This is a problem that needs the joint, smart thinking and collaboration of the NHS, the Department of Health and the supplier base, he says.

The key to that stabilising process has to be modernisation. It’s definitely time to upgrade hospital architecture, he argues, while better adherence to standards and great software design will help.

A key player here could be ECM-powered NHS content platforms, he says, as ECM version control, encryption at rest to stop unauthorised access will promote better security and reliability of healthcare systems across the board.

Finally, ECM content is stored in the server and separated from the desktop, which always helps guard against intrusion like WannaCry.

Find out in more detail here how ECM can help prevent future NHS ransomware crises

SynApps Lays Out A Vision Of A Fully Digital Police Process

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In a recent blog article, SynApps revealed another exciting solution for the public sector it’s working on with its customers – this time, in law enforcement.

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. As the hit Channel 4 show has shown us, 24 hours (longer if it’s a serious crime or a terrorist act) sounds like a long time, but just isn’t; the race us on to get a case assembled, witnesses and suspect interviewed, liaison with the CPS has to happen, and so on.

What’s more, as digital evidence is becoming more and more central to modern law enforcement, the sector’s entering the era of even more CCTV, body-worn cameras on officers, evidence gathered by iPhone or digital camera, and so forth.

As a result, the company foresees, the sector’s going to have to find ways to properly manage, store and, crucially, search and properly label and timestamp, such digital evidence. Which is where modern content management comes in, in the shape of what SynApps and our tech partners can offer. That’s because ECM is the missing link in digital evidence management in terms of what’s needed to capture, move, search, store and systematically archive such important material – and achieve the fully joined up digital justice system the Crown, public and Police themselves know we all need.

Read the longer version of this vision here