IT Evaluation of Foundation Healthcare Group NHS Vanguard programme: IT simultaneously an enabler and a rate limiting factor.
Tapuria A., Kordowicz M., Ashworth M., Ferlie E., Curcin V., Koleva-Kolarova R., Fox-Rushby J., Edwards S., Crilly T., Wolfe C.
The goal of the Foundation Healthcare Group (FHG) Vanguard model was to develop a sustainable local hospital model between two National Health Service (NHS) Trusts (a London Teaching Hospital Trust and a District General Hospital Trust) that makes best use of scarce resources and can be replicated across the NHS, UK. The aim of this study was to evaluate the provision, use, and implementation of the IT infrastructure based on qualitative interviews focused mainly on the perspectives of the IT staff and the clinicians' perspectives. METHODS: In total, 24 interview transcripts, along with 'Acute Care Collaboration' questionnaire responses, were analyzed using a thematic framework for IT infrastructure, sharing themes across the vascular, pediatric, and cardiovascular strands of the FHG programme. RESULTS: Findings indicated that Skype for Business had been an innovative and helpful development widely available to be used between the two Trusts. Clinicians initially reported lack of IT support and infrastructure expected at the outset for a national Vanguard project but later appreciated that remote access to most clinical applications including scans between the two Trusts became operational. The Local Care Record (LCR), an IT project was perceived to have been delivered successfully in South London. Shared technology reduced patient traveling time by providing locally based shared care. CONCLUSION: Lesson learnt is that ensuring patient benefit and priorities is a strong driver to implementation and one needs to identify IT rate-limiting steps at an early stage and on a regular basis and then focus on rapid implementation of solutions. In fact, future work may also assess how the IT infrastructure developed by FHG vanguard project might have helped/boosted the 'digital health' practice during the COVID-19 times. Spreading and scaling-up innovations from the Vanguard sites was the aspiration and challenge for system leaders. After COVID-19, the use of IT is scaled up and now, the challenges in the use of IT are much less compared to the pre-COVID-19 time when this project was evaluated.