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How Will The UK Measure Interoperability?

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Rachel Dunscombe, CIO, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

I am really delighted to see that KLAS has begun its journey in helping the UK healthcare system measure interoperability. Having met with a cross section of CIOs and CCIOs in all care settings, the KLAS team are getting this model together to reflect the UK health care system.

They will be measuring how we make our data usable, useful, and actually used. Of course, our care settings are complex — I work for an ICO with a number of interoperability tools, so it’s a mixed economy. Some of our fantastic NHS Trusts have taken time to assist KLAS in ensuring we understand how we attribute interoperability to the correct products in our systems.

The work KLAS has been doing with my fellow informatics teams has centered on building this UK research-model. Acknowledging our system differences and graces (i.e. single patient identifier and the Spine), they have been constructing a set of questions to assess the UK’s digital interoperability maturity.

I look forward to a shared model for baselining, measuring, and progressing interoperability across the NHS. This focus this will help us to expedite the market place in offerings and share our best practices within the system.

The drive behind this measurement is to create an interoperable ecosystem which results in data being actually used in direct care, decision support and population health. That is the essential key point — as patients transition across organizations and we introduce new models of care, we need to ensure we have the interoperability to be clinically usable, safe, and effective.

We must also take the future of digital services for the citizen into account. We need this interoperability to provide a consolidated view — not just for NHS professionals, but also the citizen and their careers.

Having been part of the US interoperability work with KLAS, I realized how important it is to get a standard frame of reference. The US-based CIOs now have a framework and definition for their interoperability goals. They can measure their progress against this and say, ‘Yes, we are delivering to the home plate with this,’ meaning they are using the data for care. I’m looking forward to having a system-wide view in the UK that can allow us to highlight and celebrate the successes we are having in interoperability.

The team at KLAS has promised that no baseball analogies will be used for their UK version of an interoperability study, but make no promises regarding cricket or football.

This work complements the Digital Maturity Assessment (DMA), which I am a big supporter of. While the DMA looks at our maturity at a Trust level, the work with KLAS will help us see what combination of vendors/partners and public sector are having on interoperability success.

It will work both in terms of showing us the tools we can use for interoperability as well as showing us the best NHS collaborations we can learn from. I believe this will help us unpack some of the great best practices UK providers have come up with and lead us to better understand the “secret sauce” of successful localities.

From what KLAS tells me, looks like the research should kick off in April and May, and we could not be more excited.

This piece was written by Rachel Dunscombe, who serves CIO and Director of Digital for Salford Royal Group, and Deputy Chair of England’s CIO Network. She is also a member of KLAS’ Advisory Board and a CHIME Ambassador for the United Kingdom. To follow her on Twitter, click here.

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