West Suffolk Hospital pioneers digital future

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Stephen Dunn, with a patient
West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Stephen Dunn, with a patient

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has received the first share of a £10 million award to enable it to become a ‘centre of digital excellence’.

The Foundation Trust received £3.3 million on July 10 to further develop its digital projects.

The trust has been identified by NHS England as one of the country’s most digitally advanced hospitals, known as a Global Digital Exemplar (GDE).

The money will now enable it to further research and develop its digital based e-Care system of patient records as well as innovations such as patient alert systems and home-based apps.

“The possibilities as a Global Digital Exemplar are vast and exciting,” said Dermot O’Riordan, chief clinical information officer and consultant surgeon.

“Our latest development has been programming our computers with automatic alerts, calculated from a patient’s symptoms, for conditions like sepsis and acute kidney failure.

“These conditions can be life-threatening and these digital advancements are helping staff detect these issues as early as possible.

“Further investment will enable us to gain more clinical information out of the system to identify where we can improve the quality of patient care.”

A total of £100 million has been awarded to 16 UK ‘acute trust’ GDEs , which NHS England also wants to produce best practice guidelines for other hospitals.

West Suffolk Foundation Trust will receive a total of £10 million over the coming years to develop projects, with the ultimate aim of becoming a paper-less organisation.

Its digital e-Care system will be integrated with those used by GPs and other hospitals, as well as social services and other care providers.

A secure patient portal is planned to give patients access to personal health records, allow them to view test results and send messages to doctors.

The trust is looking to develop home-based apps for patients to manage and track their conditions.

“Our staff have been working hard to learn the new skills and face the challenges to help us become a digitally outstanding Trust,” said chief executive, Prof Stephen Dunn.

“Everything we do is under-pinned by our ambition to deliver joined up care across the community, which will give better outcomes for the health of our patients.”