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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".

"I don't believe in paperless," says Dr Chaudry, who joined CUH after a three-year stint as a research director of global healthcare at Gartner. "People will still always need to print. And for business continuity, just in case the system does fail, you still need to be able to print.

"So I've always had the strategy that I'm working towards a paper-lite environment. And we're pretty close to that. We have 750,000 out patient appointments a year, and we don't pull a single record for those out patient appointments. It's all online, and on Epic."

CUH has also managed to reduce the number of printers at the Trust from more than 2,000 prior to implementing Epic to 438 today. Setting realistic goals that are sympathetic to staff needs has proved more powerful than grand promises.


Digitising healthcare

The digital transformation of health and social care can improve treatment, maximise staff capacity and provide more flexibility to patients. But is ultimately an economic necessity.

"That's how health is shifting," says Dr Chaudry. "We're not going to be building more monolithic hospitals, because we just don't have the money. So, the question is, how do you conceive healthcare differently?

"And certainly, when we poll our patients, the millennials tend to tell us that they don't like healthcare anyway. So, they want to consume it in a different way, and that means they don't really want to come in, they just want to do it from their office."

CUH will further support this telehealth model through its migration to Microsoft Office 365 for Business.

The suite of software and services will give staff email access on their mobile device, extensive storage space in the clouds and productivity features such as real-time document collaboration.

It will also support virtual consultations with patients through platforms such as Skype for Business. 

The partnership CUH has developed with Microsoft provides a model for how Dr. Chaudry attracts the best technology available from a variety of vendors.

"Our conversation with Microsoft was very clear," he explains. "You put skin in the game, we put skin in the game, when we work together towards a common goal."

CUH gave Microsoft time with nurses, doctors, and other allied health professionals to understand what they thought and wanted to ensure that Microsoft provided an appropriate service for their needs.

"You've got to treat your vendor as a partner, but at the same time, you've got to push your vendors to bring real value," says Chaudry. "What I tend to do is say to them, 'If you think you can do it, prove it to me'. And the good ones absolutely do that."

CUH is also exploring how virtual reality could improve treatment in services such as physiotherapy.


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