Devising a health informatics strategy that works

At Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHFT), four keywords are important: people-centred, positive, compassion and excellence.

“Collaboration is key. If we’ve not done it before, the chances are someone else has – if we collaborate we can share knowledge and get results faster.”

Steven Bloor, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, chief information officer

The trust’s strategy is to deliver appropriate, quality and efficient care. They do this by focusing on value – making the most of the resources they have – partnerships and collaboration.

As a Vanguard, together with five other organisations, they are using technology to change the way they deliver healthcare for the better. The challenge is to close the gaps between care and quality; finance and efficiency; and care and wellbeing.


By partnering as a Vanguard with neighbouring NHS organisations Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Blackpool CCG, Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Blackpool Council. And by working with technology providers like EMIS Health to make sure that the region has connected electronic patient records that can support integrated pathways of care that span across healthcare teams and between different organisations.

By looking at prevention, and sharing medical records with the patients themselves is key. “Before someone becomes a patient, if they can access and manage their information they might not become a patient at all,” explains Steven.

“By putting the patient at the centre. Phil Graham, Health Informatics programme director at BTHFT explains that a few straightforward changes can make a big difference. For example the Speech and Language Therapy service won two NHS Innovation Awards to introduce a redesigned care model which accommodates patients’ needs.  “It was a fairly simple change in the way we deliver care,” explains Phil. “We’re providing advice and assessments via video conferencing, Teleswallowing, for patients in nursing homes who find it difficult to travel which also saves the travelling time of clinicians – it’s cheaper to provide than an outpatient appointment,  easier for the patient, more convenient for care home staff and increases productivity within our organisation; removing the travel time meant three patients could be seen remotely in the same time as one home visit.”

Using EMIS Web to share data

“We need to share data. The technology is here – we can share patient notes safely, and with governance.”

Steven Bloor

EMIS Web is widely used by the GPs and is being rolled out to community teams across the region.

It enables clinicians to safely and securely share vital patient details, and it’s working well for BTHFT’s health visitors team.

“The biggest achievement for us has been getting sharing agreements with the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre and Lancaster CCGs, along with Trinity and St  John’s Hospice,” explains Jacqui Fish, clinical change facilitator at BTHFT.

“EMIS Web is a patient-centric system. There were two big wow moments for community staff: they can now see which other services have seen the patient within the Trust, and they can see the care that their GP colleagues have provided.”

It’s meant a reduction in duplication too – previously clinicians from many services had different paper forms to complete that asked for a lot of the same information, both demographic and clinical information. This has all been replaced by coded templates.

“With one template it’s all done. This means clinicians are focusing on patient care rather than the paperwork. Each time they complete a template all the information is being coded in the background to fulfil our reporting requirements for commissioners, so they’re free to concentrate on the patient.

“Every service has their own templates tailored to their needs. They’re configurable locally, so we can alter them as requirements change, such as annual KPIs.”

Next steps

“For the first time, we’ve got services that are truly joined up.”

Jacqui Fish, clinical change facilitator at BTHFT

Jacqui explains: “Everything is all in one place – the family record, the GP record. It’s a fantastic beginning, and we’re looking forward to building on that. We plan to use EMIS Mobile, which will allow community staff to record at the point of care. It will free more time for patients.”

It’s never straightforward to implement new models of care, but BTHFT is starting to see the results of the changes they are making. Phil is under no illusion about the challenges of delivering new models of care: “It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”