Having constructed a leading-edge IT function at South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM), its Chief Information Officer Stephen Docherty and his team have plenty to glory in. Within the space of a few years, he has moved from managing tin, to developing services in the cloud, to giving research teams the ability to self-serve in the cloud.

There is an undoubted value cascade from his digital pioneering. Take bed capacity at SLaM. When the trust runs out of beds, it has to put patients in specialist private beds – at considerable expense to the trust. In 2017 Docherty's function developed real-time dashboard reporting (available on mobile) that provides visual data on bed capacity and length of stay analysis across the trust's 50 wards, allowing better bed management, a cut in the number of patients in private beds, and annual savings of millions of pounds for SLaM.

Or take the personal health record (PHR) developed last year on open source and now in beta in Azure. It allows service users to self-manage, track sleep and moods, manage goals and communicate with their clinical network; and it provides clinicians with longitudinal visualised data from user-reported information. The next step is wearables to capture user-generated data and allow digital triage. Docherty is now talking to partners about AI to provide recommendations to service users such as 'when you take your medicine at 10am we notice your mood drops and heart rate increases; your clinician wants to talk to you about changing the dose or taking the medicine later in the afternoon'.

It is all underpinned by digital excellence. Last year SLaM was awarded global digital exemplar status, and Docherty has set out a three-year programme to create the digital blueprints for mental health services that other trusts can follow. Under his leadership, SLaM was the first NHS trust to fully adopt Office 365 and one of the first public sector organisations to use Azure cloud.

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