(image credit/Pixabay/David Mark)The Northern Care Alliance NHS Group and Hitachi Consulting have announced a partnership to deliver an integrated digital transformation of care processes. Known as the Digital Control Centre, the 10-year project will be deployed across Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. The foundation trust is part of the Northern Care Alliance. The new care processes will revolutionise the organisation of care across its acute and integrated services. It will build on Salford’s use of advanced analytics and IoT to support staff in making the best of resources.

The result will be an intelligent system that helps provide for the needs of patients and service users. The new partnership and platform will release more time for staff to care and deploy their clinical expertise. This provides reliable and timely patient information

The approach will use digitisation and automation to provide staff with reliable and timely information to optimise patient user care. Staff can match patient and service user individual needs to available resources. This will reduce waste and minimise waiting.

Hitachi Consulting suggest the benefits will be significant, with the experience becoming more personal and timelier. Staff satisfaction will increase. Automated processes and visualisation of information will reduce their current daily frustrations such as the lack of information, chasing data and filling forms. This will enable staff to optimise the use of beds, operating theatres and equipment.

Managing change

Northern Care Alliance Chief Executive Raj Jain oversaw the programme. Collaboration with clinical and non-clinical staff led to major changes in the way that healthcare is run.

Jain said: “The change will impact on staff right across the organisation. Supporting staff to determine and deliver these improvements is what is key. The technology is the innovation that enables staff to transform, but it is the staff that will deliver the benefits. Committed and consistent clinical and managerial leadership is key. In Salford we are able to build on the existing outstanding leadership to make the best with 21st century technology.”

The first phase focuses on issues inside the hospital. The Digital Control Centre has been designed to solve the issues staff currently experience. This includes problems that prevent them from optimising the patient’s journey and experience from admission.

Some of the developments in the first phase will focus on urgent care. This system is under tremendous pressure. To improve the timeliness of the service provided to patients, the project will introduce patient insights and flow management tools. This will provide staff in the emergency department with near real time information relating to attendance & admission history.

It will also provide key clinical indicators from patient history, admission risk and standard patient scores. Patients are assigned to the correct care pathways using these indicators. Demand management tools will improve real-time decision making; for example, by showing bed capacity and providing semi-automatic bed planning.

Developing a digital replica

Excitingly, the partnership will also allow the development of a digital replica of the organisation. This allows clinicians and operational managers to model potential changes in the organisation of care. Through this simulation, the programme will adapt evidenced changes that are much more likely to deliver the desired benefit. The programme will initially focus on Salford Royal with a longer-term plan to develop the Northern Care Alliance’s other sites.

Jain commented: “We always strive to deliver the right care, in the right place, at the right time. This venture will absolutely allow us to do this. For staff, I am sure it can feel like a daily fire-fighting exercise to ensure our patients are admitted appropriately. That they get to see the right healthcare professionals, have the treatment they need and then are discharged appropriately. We believe this programme will revolutionise the system, enhancing the care and experience we offer to our patients.

(Image credit/LinkedIn/Paul Watson)
Paul Watson, Healthcare, Vice President EMEA at Hitachi Consulting

Paul Watson, Healthcare, Vice President EMEA at Hitachi Consulting, said “The Control Centre shows the importance of leveraging digital to transform hospital operations. Working with Northern Care Alliance we will unlock more resources, enable faster access to actionable information. We expect to improve ways of working for staff and improve access to care. This means local people will ultimately benefit from faster, more targeted care.

Digital Control Centre

  1. The Digital Control Centre will deliver capabilities across three core areas:
    Operational Intelligence, Strategic Planning and Simulation. The development of digital replica of the organisation to make accurate predictions about demand and determine how best to respond.
  2. Demand & Capacity Planning / Management and Smart Scheduling. Developing real-time insights about issues like resource constraints, bed availability and discharge planning.
  3. Patient Insights and Patient Flow. Optimising the patient’s experience through the hospital by enabling better decision making. The Centre is expected to improve information flow across the integrated care organisation to reduce delays in their journey.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

Public sector organisations are often encouraged to imitate the best practices in the private sector. Traditionally the public sector lags behind the private sector, in adopting new technology and best practices. However, this partnership appears to be a ground-breaking and innovative programme. Hitachi Consulting suggest the approach is a repeatable blueprint for improvement and will deliver significant savings and benefits for the NHS.

The NHS is one of the UK’s most cherished institutions. However, its future is challenged by the rising costs of modern-day treatment and the lack of public funding. Other NHS trusts may have to explore the effectiveness of this digital transformation of care processes.


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