EHealth Insider's campaign for every trust to consider appointing a chief clinical information officer has reached another significant milestone with the appointment of three clinicians into CCIO roles.
Three trusts have announced that they have appointed senior clinicians into leading information roles. The news of the pioneering appointments was made at the second day of EHI Live 2011 at the NEC in Birmingham.
The first clinicians are:
• Dr Paul Altmann, chief clinical information officer at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
• Dr Ian Bailey, clinical director for information technology at South London Healthcare NHS Trust
• Kim Ashall, director of service transformation and IT, The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust.
Two of these trusts are undergoing major Cerner Millennium implementations, while The Rotherham is working with Dell to implement Meditech v6 as part of an ambitious transformation programme.
EHI launched the EHI CCIO Campaign in July to encourage every NHS organisation to consider appointing a CCIO to bridge the gap between doctors and nurses and the technologists installing and running IT in hospitals and the community.
Initially supported by BCS Health and the Royal College of Physicians, the campaign has attracted sign-ups from 19 institutions, including seven royal colleges; nearly 40 companies in the healthcare IT sector, and dozens of individuals.
Dr Altmann, who has visited numerous hospitals around the world that have digitised their systems, commented: “Every chief executive I have ever met at these sites has always said that the most important factor in their success was a clinically-led project, with clinical leadership in the form of a CCIO or CMIO (chief medical information officer).
“The interesting thing is that they always go on to say that the CMIO has to be an enthusiast, they have to be credible clinically and from an informatics point of view they have to be able to communicate between clinicians and IT professionals.
"And right now, there are not enough people in the NHS with that specification and we do not have a career path that invites them to go down that route.”
Dr Bailey said: “It is vital a senior clinician is accountable for how information about a patient’s care is structured, handled and used. Ultimately this is about patient safety.”
Kim Ashall, who is a physiotherapist rather than a medical consultant, said: “I am very excited to be given this opportunity to help shape IT and system design within our organisation, to support the needs of clinicians and other stakeholders.
"I am keen to support the development of the CCIO role in the NHS, to ensure clinicians continue to play an active role in the development of IT strategies within the NHS.”
© 2011 EHealth Media.
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I think EHI's CCIO Campaign has the potential to help NHS embrace the power of information at the point of decision making by the decision makers and care providers. Information Technology in the NHS is constantly bringing many new clinical tools to the work environment of the end users and clinicians, but so far there are only a few Clinical Champions who are embracing these and leading the way.
Successful Healthcare Information technology (HIT) projects demand significant involvement and leadership from all Clinicians, ultimately they are the beneficiaries along with the patients they care for in impacting the care delivery and outcomes. In every healthcare organization there are many projects and often there are significant key roles played by administrators/managers etc, but the impact of a successful HIT project is totally different when that key role is played by a clinician assuming the role of a champion.
Many clinicians are interested in playing key roles in HIT projects, but I feel, not every clinician will make a good champion. Good Clinical Champion needs skills with a strong focus on people, policy and process, they need to come into the role with an open mind to learn from other stakeholders and lead.
I wish EHI and NHS every success in the CCIO campaign.
Clinically experienced managers must be deeply involved in choosing and managing information systems. CCIOs could help ensure the right technology decisions for clinicians are made during procurement, and can follow on to assist with clinically relevant implementation and to drive adoption among clinical users.
When plans for the vision of the future of healthcare in the UK were recently announced, one of its central aims would be to bring NHS resources and decision-making ‘as close to the patient as possible’, with the overriding objective of improving the quality of the patient experience and the quality of the way in which that experience is delivered.
With this in mind, it is crucial that the current architecture for health informatics in the UK is organised around these changes, starting sooner rather than later. Improving it is a collective responsibility; for clinicians, for NHS management, for back office suppliers, and, most of all, for patients, if we are to achieve the Nirvana of having the right information, in the right place and at the right time.
Until the market as a whole takes a holistic approach to the development of services to support these ambitions by engaging all key stakeholders and influencers, the potential for success is reduced.
The delivery of IT systems needs to be executed with the patient at the centre of the process, as opposed to the current expectation that they will just fall in line with the establishment they find themselves in. The NHS is constantly evolving and reform is rife in this sector; yet the patient remains the constant within it all.
It is here where technology suppliers can play a valuable role. They understand patients’ perspectives and how their use of healthcare IT is likely to grow in the future. Supplier expertise in providing packages for patient care is there to be exploited.
It is for these reasons that McKesson is wholly supportive of the CCIO campaign as being championed by E-Health Insider. The appointment of chief clinical information officers, who will act as the custodians within each NHS provider organisation, who must be appointed at board level and who must be given the appropriate authority to influence the systems and the processes in place, will signify a positive and pro-active move towards placing the patient at the centre of the development and delivery of healthcare services.
A CCIO at Trust level is key, however additionally; this is a critical role that must be incorporated into every organisation supplying healthcare systems to those Trusts, in order to reach a level of interoperability to allow consistency of information flow between the suppliers, the NHS and the patient.
It is time for a shift in our cultural mindset. For real change to take place, collective buy-in to the wider principles of the empowered patient must be achieved. Clinicians, suppliers and patients must engage and collaborate to identify the most effective and efficient ways to improve health outcomes. There is a missing link here; one that the suppliers can fill by turning to industry experts and using their knowledge and experience within the development of their solutions. This valuable insight from those who have been at the very forefront of clinical care would allow for more effective two-way communication with the clinicians, and indeed the proposed CCIOs, who are the link to each and every patient. The supplier has a role to play here too and a clear roadmap must be agreed up front before beginning the process of supporting it with an implementation. If we do things the other way around – as has often been the case in the past – we will not succeed.
Dr Foster supports EHI's campaign to boost levels of clinical input to information systems across the NHS. The appointment of a Chief Clinical Information Officer will strengthen the dialogue between technicians, data experts, professional coders and frontline clinical staff, which in turn will improve the reliability of the data and the intelligence the NHS can extract from it.