mark stanton

Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust CIO Mark Stanton is responsible for the strategic direction of the Trust's IT programme. He is currently aiming to go paperless which will help deliver a digital Trust.  

Stanton, who joined the organisation in 2015, spoke to CIO UK on how he is improving patient healthcare, the recent WannaCry attacks and the future of the Trust.

Can you discuss some of the technologies you are currently working on?
We have two main focuses here at the Trust which are broad projects rather than technologies. One is the digital Trust, which is our project to get to the NHS' aspiration of a paperless point of care. This is the implementation of the electronic patient records system - Allscripts' Sunrise Clinical Manager (SCM) - which is going to go live in April 2018. The system will effectively join the hospital up in terms of data flow and will manage all our paper notes. We will also have electronic prescribing and clinicians will be able to make electronic orders of diagnostic tests and pathology tests and get those results back. This is the main strategic project for us and will help us to become a digitalised hospital.

The second strategic project is population health. This will join up all of the other health and social care organisations within the area, creating a single record for patients, whether they come into the hospital or see a GP.

What are the challenges and opportunities of implementing these technologies?
I think the engagement around the digital Trust programme and changing the way 4-5,000 people work on a daily basis including the doctors, nurses and other allied professionals such as pharmacists and radiologists. It is about getting a whole clinical community to stop using a paper method and engaging them in the digital agenda. The biggest challenge is the engagement and getting people to talk to us and understand how they would like these things to work. I want them to be involved in the design and deployment rather than IT sitting in the backroom and doing the delivery for them.

What are the main benefits for staff members and patients?
I think in terms of the workforce it effectively gives them the information they need at their fingertips in order to deliver the best possible patient care. They don't have to wait for a file to go through or a result to come through the post. Every piece of information for that patient is available to them at that point of the care, translating into an overall better patient experience.

How will you ensure the paperless system is secure for its users?
We have recruited our own information governance manager of cybersecurity - having gone through 27,001 accreditations - and I believe that we are one of a handful of NHS organisations in the UK that has this accreditation. We focus a lot of our time and investments into getting the cybersecurity absolutely right and in fact, it is fair to say that during the main WannaCry issue this Trust was not impacted because we are taking all the security steps that were needed to protect us before it got to that point.

What are some of the recent successes you have implemented as a CIO?
I think this is around some of the early digital projects. In the last year, we have gone from 10% electronic discharges to around 95%. In the past, when an inpatient left the hospital we would then send a letter to the GP and would then put the information into a practice system. Now an electronic message goes straight into the practice management system, so the GP knows immediately what has happened to the patient. It has tidied a lot of the processes up in terms of receiving information quickly for GPs. 

What technologies do you believe will have an impact on the healthcare sector?
I think there are many technologies which will have an impact but what we need to do is start with the basics of IT and getting that right. The healthcare sector is behind compared to other industries in terms of its day-to-day usage of IT. Layering the foundations of IT and getting technologies such as AI or wearables to play a part in the NHS can have an impact, but I think we are a couple of years away from getting the basics right.

How are you raising awareness of security at the Trust?
Around cybersecurity, we are putting good practices into IT and investing in technology to help protect us but clearly, the weakest link is always going to the workforce. As part of the mandatory training, there is an IT security module which staff members have to undertake annually so there has been a lot of mystery shopper type activities where we have been creating and testing our own viruses. We are sending out emails to our staff with fake viruses and seeing who have clicked on those links.

We are also running poster and intranet campaigns where we are very much engaged with the workforce at large in terms of getting them to understand it. The media has done a good job for the NHS and the WannaCry scandal because it has hit mainstream news and brought it to everyone’s attention so now we quite often get staff telling us their worries around cybersecurity.

What does the future for Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust?
I think it is obvious that we are aiming to be a digital Trust within the next two years so we have to get rid of all the paper formats and go completely electronic. This is our first aspiration and trying to create a digital Trust by being able to share their data with other healthcare organisations in order to improve the patient healthcare in this area and without losing the focus on our main aim.