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Four reasons why you don’t need to take a big bang approach to EPR deployment

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It is well known that the implementation of Electronic Patient Record (EPR) systems is crucial for ensuring NHS trusts meet the frontline digitisation targets. I want to spend some time here exploring why trusts don’t need to take a big bang approach to EPR deployment, especially when considering the challenges it creates. I also want to highlight some insightful comments from Jane Saunders, the Director of EPR at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) who shares her experiences with implementing a new EPR.

Taking a big bang approach to EPR deployment involves implementing the entire system all at once. While this may seem like a faster route, it can lead to significant challenges. One of the major drawbacks is the substantial effort required to configure each component of the EPR before going live. This process can be time-consuming and may delay the implementation timeline, which can hamper the ability to meet targets.

Click here to download the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust client story.Jane Saunders rightly emphasises the advantages of a phased approach to EPR deployment. By implementing the system in phases, trusts can gradually introduce the EPR to different departments or sites, enabling a smoother transition. This approach provides several benefits:

1. User adoption and learning: A phased approach helps staff members familiarise themselves with the EPR gradually. By starting with specific departments, the learning curve becomes manageable, and users can adapt more easily to the new system. This approach also enables healthcare professionals to actively participate in the design process, ensuring the EPR aligns with their workflows.

2. Continuous improvement: Deploying the EPR in phases provides an opportunity to learn from initial implementations. Trusts can gather feedback from users and make necessary refinements and enhancements before rolling out the system to other departments or sites. This iterative process ensures that the EPR is continuously optimised to improve workflows and patient care.

3. Customisation and flexibility: EPR systems like Sunrise™, used by MTW, offer the advantage of being highly customisable. Unlike off-the-shelf solutions, which may force organisations to adapt their processes to fit the system, bespoke EPRs can be moulded to align with existing workflows. This flexibility enables NHS trusts to retain their current ways of working while benefiting from the efficiencies offered by digital systems.

4. Maintaining success and performing well: As Jane Saunders highlighted in our recent “EPRs Uncovered” campaign, the positive outcomes of adopting a phased approach establishes the ability to refine the EPR system, optimise workflows and design it collaboratively with clinicians. In doing this, MTW has moved to level 1 in the NHS System Oversight Framework (SOF)—a move that recognises the significant improvements and progress made by staff across the Trust in recent years. The trust is one of the top performing acute hospital trusts in the country, is regularly in to the top five for A&E performance in England, and is one of the few trusts in the country to have no long waiting patients (those waiting 52 weeks for planned care) and has delivered the 62-day cancer standard each month for over three years.

Digital transformation has been a key part of their journey and its success demonstrates that EPR implementation doesn’t have to risk disruption across the entire organisation and take as long to deploy as many EPR deployments. Instead, it can be a collaborative effort that aligns the digital system with the unique needs and workflows of the organisation.

Deploying an EPR system in an NHS trust is a critical step towards accelerating digital maturity and by avoiding the challenges associated with big bang approaches, NHS trusts can ensure a smoother transition to an EPR, ultimately benefiting both healthcare professionals and patients alike.

You can read the full MTW case study here and watch the full recording with Jane Saunders, EPR Director at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust here.

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