IT news: News round-up

The latest deployment and solutions news from the healthcare IT sector

Boost for NHS Choices

SMARTLOGIC has developed a solution for the NHS Choices website that allows users to more precisely find the health information they are looking for. The ability to locate accurate and relevant information – whether it is an explanation of a type of treatment, the particulars on a specific medication, the treatment record of a particular hospital, the latest on waiting lists, condition management advice, or even dietary tips – helps many users satisfy their query online, helping to save health centre, doctor, specialist and other experts’ time, or at least prepare people for a consultation or ensure that they contact the most appropriate healthcare professional first time round.

Commenting on the solution, known as Semaphore, a Smartlogic spokesman said: “First our consultants built an ontology linking a conceptual understanding and vocabulary of medical terms with the normal language people use to describe their health, their physical condition, illnesses, specific symptoms, treatments and medications. The model also recognises the significance of keywords in certain contexts. For instance, a search of the term ‘MS’ will bring up ‘multiple sclerosis’ rather than ‘Microsoft’; or ‘superbug’ will find ‘What is MRSA?’ rather than ‘cockroach’.

Semaphore also scans each new document or other piece of content, intelligently recognises its key terms and automatically tags the content with this metadata for later retrieval during a search. If this classification had to be done manually, it would simply be unaffordable, unmanageable and probably inconsistent.”

Pharmacy solution for NI

NORTHERN Ireland Health and Social Care (HSC) has procured a countrywide pharmacy software solution from JAC Computer Services, providing a common master drug catalogue, supplier file and patient file across all providers. Enterprise Release Version 5 will provide a single dispensing record for each patient and means their dispensing history can be viewed as they move between sites, supporting continuity of care.

Dr Norman Morrow, chief pharmaceutical officer at the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The implementation of this new system will significantly modernise the technology support to further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our pharmacy and medicines management services.”

Rob Tysall-Blay of JAC Computer Services added: “Northern Ireland HSC was looking for a single system that could support all of its trusts and organisations to enable truly joined-up medication management that follows patients along their pathways of care. This will not only enable more effective and efficient control of drug usage, but will also realise significant economies. This is truly a landmark project in the UK, and I believe it will be the model for future large-scale deployments.”

Energy software saves £10k

SOUTH Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT) has reduced its annual spend on power by £10,000 through use of energy management software. The trust has implemented software which has resulted in immediate power savings of more than 20% per PC since deployment. The software automatically turns of computers when they are not in use, and provides the trust with monitored power usage measurements. It has led to a power saving of 22.7% per PC, resulting in an annual unit energy saving of 55.5kWh. The total yearly energy saving is estimated to be 99,900kWh, which, with electricity rates fluctuating between 9.58p and 17.8p per kWh, will save the trust £10,000 in the first year alone, the equivalent to carbon savings of about 30 tonnes.

SEPT chief executive, Dr Patrick Geoghegan OBE, said: “This software has clearly shown SEPT can conserve natural resources as well as achieve considerable operational savings. The first phase of the project has given us an even clearer insight into our IT energy usage and we’re now looking for ways to build on these savings and extend our use to other areas and will allow the savings made to be put back into frontline care for our patients.”

Digital dictation saves time

THE deployment of digital dictation technology at a Manchester GP practice has led to time savings of 48%, an audit has revealed. The Robert Darbishire Practice in Rusholme switched to Lexacom’s software last year. And an audit comparing the previous analogue system to the new solution has revealed that the average time taken to complete an appointment and then submit a dictation has nearly halved. The time taken to complete an appointment and then process the transcription has also improved by 36%, while the time taken from submitting a dictation to processing the transcription has improved by 26%.

Sue Daly, secretarial team leader at the practice, said: “When we were using the analogue system, we couldn’t always be sure what was on the tapes and where it had been recorded. But, with Lexacom, the recordings are clearly labelled and can be retrieved very easily. It’s very comforting to have clear visibility of your workload so that it can be managed accordingly.”

East of England PCTs choose MedeAnalytics

A CONSORTIUM of five primary care trusts from the East of England has selected MedeAnalytics to provide invoice validation and performance analysis services. The group, comprising NHS South East Essex, NHS South West Essex, NHS Norfolk, NHS Bedfordshire and NHS Hertfordshire, together with stakeholders such as GPs, clinical commissioning groups and healthcare providers, will use the solution in the provision and commissioning of acute healthcare services. It will help monitor utilisation and ensure accurate payment for services, saving the trusts money and improving efficiency across local health economies. Simon Rollason, programme manager for the East of England PCT consortium, said: “All of us want to spend less time on data management and more time actually using the information and the intelligence it gives us to make better informed clinical and pathway decisions for our health economies.”

Automated portering at Walsall

WALSALL Healthcare NHS Trust is deploying a new automated portering system in a bid to cut patient waiting times and improve productivity in patient transport services. The trust is using TeleTracking Technologies’ TransportTracking solution after trials at the Royal Free Hospital in London showed it slashed waiting times by half. Deployments at hospitals in Wolverhampton and Rotherham also showed a 30% increase in productivity. Anthony Sanzo of TeleTracking Technologies said: “TeleTracking solutions reduce overcrowding, cut costs, generate revenue, fight the spread of infection, manage assets, accelerate patient transfers, and provide a wealth of data for continual operational improvement and business development. With trusts looking to do more with less in the NHS, we have seen a flurry of activity.” The company currently has deals with 10 NHS trusts covering 12 UK hospitals.

Product rationalisation tool saves money

SURREY and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has embarked on a product rationalisation programme, which is saving nearly £80,000 a year. In conjunction with NHS Commercial Solutions, the trust has installed the GHX Nexus catalogue management tool to enable it to better manage the NHS Supply Chain catalogue. Under the new approach, the procurement team, working with internal stakeholders, has now produced an agreed list of products that satisfy the organisation’s requirements and represent best value for money. The catalogue tool enables the team to easily manage this agreed list of products and make any changes with a click of a button. The solution has reduced the amount of time needed to manage the content and has delivered annual savings of £79,000 through product rationalisation, with a reduction in product lines from 12,500 to 2,500.

Companies