White Paper provides much-needed guidance on deployment of clinical portals

Success of Liverpool trust's rollout to be disseminated through NHS

Guidance is to be published aimed at helping NHS organisations across the UK repeat the success of a Liverpool trust when deploying state-of-the-art clinical IT solutions.

The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust carried out a proof-on-concept evaluation on plans to deploy a clinical portal solution in its haematology and dermatology departments in 2010. Based on this work, the business case was approved in early 2011 and deployment of Harris Healthcare’s Carefx solution to clinics across all departments began in January of this year.

As a result of the new technology, the trust has seen the length of clinic times reduced by an average of 30 minutes and the deployment has also improved patient services, enhanced patient safety and led to savings in staff time and resources. In addition, the portal has created a bridge between existing applications that is enabling the trust to maximise previous investment in IT.

Deploying a clinical portal is a complex task that touches on almost every area of an organisation's operations

Now the process undertaken to build the business case, choose a solution, and complete the deployment will be used to help other trusts yet to make the leap from paper-based systems to joined-up clinical software.

The move addresses key concerns voiced by many IT managers who find it hard to convince boards to support substantial investment in technology. It will also provide advice on searching the market, which has opened up considerably and become much more competitive and confusing following the Government’s decision to scrap centralised procurement of NHS IT services.

The advice will make up a White Paper written by freelance electronic patient records programme manager, Alison Clare, who worked with the Liverpool trust on its deployment.

Write a Sound Business Case to Justify Investment in a Clinical Portal will be the first in a series that will eventually provide a step-by-step guide to deployment, from creating the business case to project communications and benefits realisation.

Clare said: “The new NHS Information Strategy , The Power of Information , places a strong focus on the development of portals to allow patients and care professionals to access and view records and services. It’s essential that, as the NHS begins to invest significant sums in these kinds of systems, we make the most of that investment and deliver the maximum benefit for patients and care professionals.

“Drawing on my experiences at the trust, this paper provides an outline of the key steps, issues and considerations that need to be take into account when writing a business case for a clinical portal.”

It’s essential that, as the NHS begins to invest significant sums in these kinds of systems, we make the most of that investment and deliver the maximum benefit for patients and care professionals

The document, which will be officially unveiled at the EHI Live exhibition in Birmingham next week, demonstrates not only how to create a business case that will secure funding for investment in a clinical portal, but also one that will gain buy-in from the staff who will be impacted by its introduction. Staff culture change has been given as a reason for many trusts failing to successfully deploy solutions or gain the necessary funding in the past.

There will also be a nine-step guide that will help individual project teams build a case specifically to suit an individual trust’s needs and objectives. It explores all the various elements required, including how to develop a proof of concept evaluation and choose and procure a solution, along with the associated risks, the likely benefits, how the benefits will be measured, how the implementation will be managed, the resources required and the project timescales. Including practical advice, checklists and guidelines, the White Paper will be a key resource for healthcare organisations looking to deploy a clinical portal in the future.

Commenting on the publication, James Norman, director of IM&T at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We decided to opt for a portal solution as we felt it would be easier and more cost effective to deploy alongside our existing systems, minimising disruption.

“However, to ensure this was the right strategy for the trust, developing a business case was critical. Alison’s paper provides an accurate account of how we achieved this and will provide an excellent guide as to what to consider when thinking about a portal approach in various care settings. This is particularly pertinent now as new IT strategies across the UK place a heavy emphasis on the use of portals to deliver the right information at the right time to care professionals and patients while making the most of existing investments in IT.”

The White Paper will provide an excellent guide as to what to consider when thinking about a portal approach in various care settings. This is particularly pertinent now as new IT strategies across the UK place a heavy emphasis on the use of portals to deliver the right information at the right time to care professionals and patients while making the most of existing investments in IT

The White Paper series is sponsored by the Harris Healthcare, whose vice president of EMEA, Wayne Parslow, said: “Providing faster, more-efficient access to patient records and data is a key aim for NHS trusts.

The new NHS Information Strategy has placed a clear emphasis on the role clinical portals will play in delivering this aim. However, deploying a clinical portal is a complex task that touches on almost every area of an organisation's operations. This is why we were keen to support Alison to enable her to share with other organisations within the NHS the insights and best practices she gained during the successful deployment of the Harris provider portal at the trust."

Following its success the Liverpool trust is now working collaboratively to extend the portal to wards and emergency departments, and will be providing access to the system for GPs to support delivery of seamless care.

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