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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust CIO Dr. Zafar Chaudry explains 'paper-lite' strategy

Thomas Macaulay | Sept. 5, 2017
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust recently became the first healthcare organisation outside of the US to be named among "Health Care's Most Wired".

Credit: Cambridge University Hospitals

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) CIO Dr. Zafar Chaudry had a tough job in front of him when he joined the organisation in September 2015. CUH was at the tail end of a problematic implementation of a new electronic patient record (EPR) project known as Epic.

Struggles to set up the system had played a big part in the Trust being put into special measures due to financial problems and being rated as "inadequate" by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Dr. Chaudry was tasked with stabilising the project and driving adoption. He did this by optimising workflow through extensive remedial work, speaking directly with commissioners and holding their hands through system utilisation.

"We did a massive push in terms of year on year refresher training, and training at the point of care, and that helped in the adoption, and also making sure that all the tools were in place, that there was hardware available anywhere, anytime for you to access the system," Dr Chaudry told CIO UK.

The project was recovered and delivered within 12 months, which helped pull the hospital out of special measures and push its CQC rating up to "good".

CUH is the first hospital trust in the UK to adopt the system. It's now available to 13,000 users across two hospitals and gives 4,000 clinicians concurrent access to real-time patient data.

It's helped cut the time taken to prepare discharge medications in half, free up 4,500 orthopaedic clinic appointments by letting clinicians view x-rays digitally, and save almost £1 million annually by reducing adverse drug reactions.


A 'paper-lite' NHS?

CUH is one of the UK's largest healthcare Trusts. It runs the Addenbrooke's and Rosie hospitals, a biomedical research centre, and a range of specialist services across Cambridge and the southeast of England.

Thanks to Dr Chaudry's strategy, it is now also one of the country's most digital. The recovery of the Epic project helped CUH become just the third UK Trust to obtain a Stage 6 rating on the Electronic Medical Records Adoption Model (EMRAM) in 2015.

The success of Epic also earned CUH a place among "Health Care's Most Wired" hospitals. It's the first healthcare organisation outside of the US to be recognised on the American Hospital Association's (AHA) annual list.

EPR systems such as Epic are a key part of the vision of a paperless NHS that politicians have promised to deliver for 25 years.

Their continuing failure to achieve this has come as little surprise to medtech experts, many of whom believe electronic systems should complement paper records rather than replace them.


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