BCS Health welcomes Future Hospital Commission report

12 September 2013

BCS Health, part of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT welcomes today’s report from Future Hospital Commission which puts informatics and technology at the heart of the future hospital.

Dr Justin Whatling, Chair of BCS Health, says: “The report outlines the best practice that really ought to be uniformly in place today, and that reflects many of the key themes that BCS Health has been championing in recent years. However, we believe this good work could go much further - the challenges the health system faces requires that we not only perfect the care we deliver but that we have to radically transform the very processes of care delivery - information and technology have a hugely disruptive role to play in redefining how care services are delivered.”

The report raises for consideration what the role of the hospital is in the integrated care system and how specialist services are best mobilised. But what will the future hospital look like?

  • Will outpatient departments be no more as these consultations are conducted at home or in primary care settings?
  • Will large volumes of specialist services be delivered remotely using telemedicine services?
  • Will we need to build new hospitals with flexibility to continuously reconfigure their infrastructure to support changing demands on services?
  • Will hospital providers take on the risk and responsibility for managing integrated care for patients across the local health economy in provider networks against outcomes based contracts?

This report reflects several areas which BCS Health has been championing in recent years, including the need for a single electronic patient record (EPR) developed to common standards and the importance of interoperability. The EPR as identified in the report is a foundational building block to improve care processes to deliver safe and efficient care.

BCS Health supports the report’s belief that education and training of clinicians is paramount - this we believe has to start in undergraduate training. Justin says: “We need to train clinician undergraduates in EPR now. Clinicians should be trained to work in multi-disciplinary teams and to use patient information systems for recording of high quality data and sparking a culture of enquiry to understand and use the data to change clinical practice.”

And in reference to the recommendation for Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIOs), Justin explains: “In keeping with our long term call, shared by other professional bodies such as the RCP, we are pleased to see a special mention referring to CCIOs. These leaders are a critical connector of informatics and the clinical profession in helping to realise the benefits that information and technology can bring. We need to see more CCIO appointments and ensure they have enough time protected to fulfil the role.”

The CCIO leadership role is key but not sufficient to enable the required transformation. The report recommends a Clinical Coordination Centre which BCS Health believes is commendable however needs to be coupled with a strong clinically-led transformation office that can drive continuous performance improvement in the organisation driven by information and facilitated by technology.

Justin concludes: “We have a real opportunity to engage hospital clinicians in joined up patient care by providing them access to patient information from across the local health economy and ensuring they contribute back to the sharing of this information to make better care decisions. Commissioners will be looking for new models of care that are focused on patient outcomes and this will help Future Hospitals engage in delivering patient centred services across the care continuum - a theme at the heart of the Future Hospital Commission report.”

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