How to deliver transformative NHS improvements at speed
Jonathan Lofthouse of Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust gives his eight-point action plan for implementing technology – and reaping its benefits – as quickly as possible
Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images
The NHS is renowned for world-leading care. But rapid change, unfortunately, often continues to elude.
Aintree's eight-point framework
1. Business cases should always clearly articulate payback, both direct and indirect.
2. Business cases are reviewed on a monthly cycle, as well as annual – the longest Aintree waits for a business decision is 4.5 weeks, as opposed to months and months.
3. Increased financial authority – as director of improvement I have authorisation rights to in keeping with a University Foundation Trust executive director of finance, without reference to another individual.
4. We stipulate that every one of our commercial relationships is a partnership – it is never just a transaction.
5. We are very robust on the use of technical contractor stage gates for delivery, which very clearly motivates suppliers to deliver on pace.
6. We allocate a named senior responsible officer and a named trust project manager for every single commercial partnership.
7. We purchase the very best we can afford.
8. We apply a robust application of procurement frameworks where available, and embrace start-up projects.
The recent change project saw us work with InTouch with Health, a patient flow software technology supplier, and DrDoctor, a virtual digital platform technology supplier, to bring about long-term benefits within the outpatient arena.
At Aintree, we have introduced digital communication by default, so unless you request a letter about your appointment, all of your correspondence will go to you digitally. We currently have about 67% of our patients’ smartphone information. This has substantially reduced our print and mailing costs, and contributed to a reduction in non-attendance. By going to digital default for letters alone, that is a £560,000 per year saving for Aintree.
Our approach has always been that we are very inclusive on early-stage demonstrations when we are considering purchasing a piece of kit. We often have an audience of 30-40 trust staff in the room who can see the product being demonstrated
What we have also found is that, because our projects develop so quickly, our staff want to attend meetings because they know they can be involved in influencing conversations and on decision-making as projects unfold – the developments don’t feel as if they are ‘lost in the wind.’
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