NHS South Commissioning Support Unit will focus on making valuable intelligence readily available to commissioners and managing their external IT contracts, its chief information officer says.
Catherine Dampney said the unit would act as an “expert broker” for managing clinical commissioning groups’ IT contracts, able to get the “best value for the best economies of scale” for its clients.
Integration and transformation projects, as well as business intelligence, will remain in-house.
Dampney said the unit would focus on developing fast, effective ways of presenting information relevant for commissioning via snapshots or on mobile devices.
“We can be delivering better information across the patch to clinicians and if we don’t take opportunities now, clinicians will miss out,” she said.
“We’re really looking at bringing the wow factor into it.”
The CSU’s customers already have three outsourced providers of IT for things such as helpdesk support.
“We’re looking at developing these contracts, improving these services, working with customers to see what they want delivered, what’s good and bad and what they don’t want anymore,” Dampney said.
“It’s very hard to compete on a commercial scale. The value we can bring is picking the best deal for our customers and managing it so they get a seamless service.”
What remains in-house is development of integration projects, building on the success of things like the Hampshire Health Record, to look at how to further support the health community and integration with CCG transformation objectives, she said.
“There’s a lot of focus on supporting the clinicians especially around getting some really transformational service design and our role in that,” Dampney added.
“We have a lot of knowledge and expertise about how these transformations take place and what’s needed to make that happen on the ground.”
The unit is part of the Southern Collaborative which is developing a Data Management Integration Centre. Nine centres nationwide will be “at scale” providers of data validation, integration and storage for CCGs and CSUs.
Dampney said the DMICs would develop over the next 12 months to take more feeds and data.
She hoped these local initiatives would be allowed to continue to grow as previous attempts to build national data repositories under Connecting for Health had not achieved what they set out to do.
“I hope the centre will allow DMICs to be managed and developed locally to really get the benefits of local innovation."
Dampney said there was a different mindset working in a CSU rather than a primary care trust.
While the PCT would set strategy and directives, these were now clinically driven through the CCGs.
“We are supporting that vision to become a reality, but not setting that vision,” explained Dampney.
One of the major challenges during the transition was managing the risk of losing people with good skills as they could easily move into an IT role elsewhere.
In her experience, this did not generally happen because staff were excited about the prospect of what they could do in the CSU in contrast to the constraints of the PCT.
Dampney said CCGs were all in different places in terms of their understanding of their IT needs, investment and interest in IT.
“I see my role as understanding what they are trying to achieve for patients and communities and coming up with solutions and options for how we can support that through technology,” she said.
© 2013 EHealth Media.
Register: To add a comment you must be registered.