Tags: NHS

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

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

SynApps Gains Coverage In Tier One Tech Title Computer Business Review

 


Head of our Healthcare Practice Gary Britnell was asked by this important UK IT sector publication to outline the best response by the UK health IT community to Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt’s recent apparent dismissal of the importance of NHS paperless targets.

From 2013 on, the Health Secretary and his Department stressed the imperative to get the NHS fully paperless by 2018. But earlier this month, what many in the sector took to be a dismissal of the whole campaign by the Secretary came to light, who told the NHS Sustainability cross-party committee of MPs he was “quite relieved most people seem to have forgotten” the whole idea.

For Gary, NHS IT leaders should instead look at the great progress to paperless made so far, and indeed mull over the idea that 2018 might well remain a realistic target for some ambitious Trusts when it comes to going digital. He also discusses how getting to the NHS we need is not going to be easy, but practical techniques like the integrated digital care record (IDCR) are emerging as a great way to get there.

The good news is that once we have this in place, says SynApps, we will be able to do great things in the NHS, such as route information without any need for re-keying or asking the patient the same questions, allow collation of data for better analysis of the bigger trends, programmatic search, and so on – as well as head off patient data loss that can put lives at risk.

Read Gary’s ideas in full here

SynApps Coverage In Document Manager

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In key industry publication DM Magazine, an article has been published by our head of Healthcare Practice Gary Britnell on the best response by the UK health IT community to Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt’s recent apparent dismissal of the importance of NHS paperless targets.

For Gary, NHS IT leaders should instead look at the great progress to paperless made so far. He discusses how getting to a paperless NHS is not going to be easy, but practical techniques like the integrated digital care record (IDCR) are emerging as a great way to get there.

Read the article in full here

SynApps Seen As The Foundation Of Key Digital Exemplar EPR Project

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In widely-followed sector publication Digital Health, SynApps Solutions project at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust has received some positive coverage.

A project is underway there to deliver a new Electronic Patient Record strategy based on an open standards-based vendor-neutral archive. The article discusses how Royal Liverpool is one of NHS England’s 16 global digital exemplar sites, which are being centrally funded to provide digital transformation best practice for other trusts to follow. IT systems used by the exemplars are likely to be adopted widely by other trusts, observers expect, for example.

Digital Health highlights SynApps role in preparing for the EPR in 2013, when we helped Royal Liverpool migrate nearly 90 million images to the SynApps vendor neutral archive (VNA).

Find out more about the project in more detail here

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

SynApps In The News

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In this key public sector publication, Head of the Healthcare Practice at SynApps Gary Britnell discusses the interoperability challenge the NHS faces as it tries to become fully digital.

According to US digital health guru Robert Wachter, brought in by the Department of Health to advise the government on how to transition to a digital health service, “If I had any one piece of advice for the NHS around going digital, it’s to get interoperability right from the start. We have hospitals in the US that have great computers, but where 95% of the systems can’t talk to each other.”

He’s right: hospitals want to share patient data internally, as the paper chase chokes productivity, as our everyday experience with our NHS Trust customers shows. They also know that they’ll want to share that data with other providers as we move to break down the barriers between health and social care.

Many practitioners believe the best way of doing that is the Integrated Digital Care Record, the IDCR. The challenge: there’s no central, top-down route to get an IDCR; Trusts are going to have to build their own.

Getting to the digital NHS we need is not going to be easy. The good news is that once we have this in place, we will be able to do great things in the NHS, such as route information without any need for re-keying or asking the patient the same questions, allow collation of data for better analysis of the bigger trends, programmatic search, and so on. SynApps is actively engaged on building just such a practical way of doing so.

Read the article for yourself here