Coming to the end of a three-year stint as CIO for the Irish Health Service Executive, Richard Corbridge moved late last year to Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust as its Chief Digital and Information Officer.
Corbridge and his team notched up a further run of exceptional success in his final year in Ireland. In 2017, he helped create a single location health identifier for the whole country. The first electronic health record (EHR) system in all maternity units went live and a full EHR was implemented in four hospitals. By the time he left the role, two-thirds of all babies born in Ireland had a digital health record, linking the delivery of care for baby and mother from birth. Early warning, decision support and high-speed monitoring were driven by his leadership, with a key value stream being the ability of digital to improve healthcare in such a way that it acts as an exemplar for further investment.
In his new role at Leeds, he has taken over a trust with a fraught recent history of IT. He started by implementing a single sign-on (SSO) solution for all staff, eliminating the need for clinicians to log into as many as eight systems, which could take up to 15 minutes. His SSO programme and introduction of a virtual desktop infrastructure has reduced the log-in time to six seconds, which will fall still further as proximity sensors are rolled out in 2018.
He instigated a collective 100-day plan for the Leeds team, which had been without a leader for over nine months before his arrival. The idea is to let staff move through an organisational change together that turns an IT function into a truly digital function. The goal is to reflect the digital needs of the hospital rather than the structural needs of IT delivery.
Under Corbridge, Leeds has delivered its EHR on a mobile app as well as via the desktop. Proximity sensors have been built in, and clinical staff are now prompted as to the best route to take for their ward rounds, based on their patients and their criticality. The EHR has also gained the ability to take digital dictation and there is an optical character recognition search of scanned-in historic notes. In 2018 he intends to introduce artificial intelligence in the form of a chatbot that can help surface the right information at the right time to busy clinicians on their hospital rounds.
Corbridge's intention is to transpose to Leeds (one of the largest teaching hospitals in the EU) the lessons he learned in Ireland about the delivery of contextualised medicine in genomics sequencing. He has partnered with the University of Leeds on the Leeds Institute of Data Analytics to leverage the university's genomics expertise.
His partnership talent is equally evident in how he has crystallised Leeds' relationship with its EHR development partner (a partnership hitherto renewed each year on a temporary basis and without an agreed strategic outlook). There is now a three-year deal in place, and the contract basis has changed from a 'black box' service to one with shared risk and reward. This stronger partnership allows for the shared commercialisation of the foundational element of the EHR.