How should PCTs approach deployment and roll-out for best effect?
Having established a shortlist of possible PBC solutions and suppliers using the functional checklist in the second article of this series, the next stage is to move towards implementation.
Here, it is critical to realise that the PBC solution is not just a bolt-on addition that will instantly deliver results, but a key enabler in the overall change process embodied in PBC.
To ensure that the change process is planned, approached and implemented smoothly, there are three key stages that organisations should move through.
1. Project Board
Whether undertaken at SHA level or at individual PCT level, the PBC Project Board should include key director-level staff from all the agencies involved, including directors of commissioning, IT and finance, representatives from local primary care organisations, practices, and, ideally, the chosen PBC solution supplier.
The ideal solution supplier should be able to bring experience and add value, not just in IT, but also in dealing with multiple NHS agencies and in working within NHS policy frameworks. The supplier’s involvement in the Project Board should provide valuable extra insight into the practicalities of deployment, in terms of manpower and timescales.
It’s the role of the Project Board to outline the areas of responsibility, set direction and to ensure the PBC project starts and remains on track. This includes considering how partnerships and local markets will be governed, and being the source of clinical advice and leadership.
Assembling the Project Board need not be time-consuming. Can an existing board or executive group – such as the Chief Executive’s Group or a Commissioning Group – add the PBC responsibilities to its remit? If so, the PBC Project can be quickly assimilated into overall strategy.
The Project Board is also responsible for appointing the Executive Group, which handles delivery of the project.
2. Executive Group
This group deals with the hands-on, practical issues involved in the project, including deploying the actual PBC solution and resolving IT issues, liaison between the various agencies involved and reporting back to the Project Board on progress.
Here again, the right solution supplier can add real value, in terms of practical experience of integrating the solution and in roll-out to all parties involved in the process. Implementing the PBC solution itself should be fairly straightforward, as most PCTs use industry-standard databases and architectures for their data warehouses.
3. Readiness Process
This encompasses not just the IT elements, but also the human element of putting PBC into practice. Do the relevant staff have the right skills in readiness for PBC? Do staff using PBC data know how to use the PBC reporting solution effectively?
A key part of the readiness process is a skills audit, which will identify any gaps in the skills base in PCT and practice teams, and ensure that these gaps are filled before the new commissioning arrangements come into effect.
With these three process steps in mind, issues during deployment can be minimised and roll-out accelerated. Typical timescales can be as little as six weeks, but a more realistic timescale is around three months.
If commissioning takes place in the “brain” of the organisation, the actual patient and treatment data is the lifeblood of the PBC process. The PBC solution is the eyes and the memory of the process; reporting on what is currently happening, and on performance against targets and plans. And with efficient vision and memory, the commissioning brain is able to function at peak efficiency – helping to meet the stringent demands of universal coverage.