Your deadlines are incredibly tight, and you can’t afford to hang around, so we are sharing our internal playbook that we use for digital transformation engagements. It is available here, free of charge and offered in the spirit of trying to help with your System Control Centre. We know that times are tough, so we hope you appreciate the gesture. Please reach out to us if we can support you with any further materials that we might have, or if you just want somebody to bounce ideas off.
As highlighted in our previous blog post, NHS England has compelled every integrated care board (ICB) across England to set up a System Control Centre (SCC), as part of its “winter resilience plans”, by 1st December 2022.
Success looks like enabling the flow of real-time data into a central place so that a fully staffed function, which uses the insight gained, can manage pressure across the whole system. This is an important aim.
However, this might mask the challenges of managing patient flow and providing care professionals with the information required to make the right decisions on a minute-by-minute basis. Of course, the concept of real-time requires further exploration. For example, not all data is captured digitally in real-time, due to service pressures on the shop floor, and so we must be wary of making quick decisions based on data that might not be correct. However, there are decisions that could be made more quickly and effectively, if the right insight lands in the right hands at the right time.
ICBs are under pressure to accelerate the delivery of viable SCCs. Three things should be considered if the task is to be more about enabling service improvement than moving data:
Is there immediate visibility of a holistic patient record at the most pressured first points of care, such as in A&E? Also, are the data being used to change clinical and operational decision-making?
Is there a real-time, system-wide view of the patient across all local health and care stakeholders? Does that view enable clinicians, social workers and operational teams to understand their challenges, to enable them to collaborate and take action?
Do your clinicians and care professionals feel value in having data, because you have designed the sharing of data and intelligence into the way they work – and the systems they use? Having visibility of data across the care system is one thing, but to really drive change it needs to be actionable at the point of care. There is often work to be done to make this so.
In response to this challenge, we developed three tools and resources to help us to help you on your SCC journey.
The first step is to understand your SCC operational readiness. This will ensure that you know where you are today, where you need to be this winter and the gap between these two positions. This will provide the information to make targeted improvements that make the biggest difference to the operation of your SCC.
We have developed an SCC Maturity Assessment, which enables you to better understand:
– Where you are today, as winter quickly approaches: making do with what you have in place already, quickly building the right foundations, making improvements to your current capabilities, or even optimising them.
– Where you need to be this winter: Will making do be enough to run a minimal viable control centre to get through this year’s demand pressures? Or do you need to take urgent, targeted action now?
– Where you want to be in the longer term: Control centres are not just for this coming Christmas. Where do you want to be in future years?
What are you then going to do about your findings? The second step is to develop your SCC service model, to make sure all the right building blocks are in place. We have developed an SCC service modeller, used in conjunction with our SCC planner, to help you work through the layers of your operating model to action the following:
– Where do you need to take targeted action to make rapid improvements this year? What are your priority pathways?
– Where are you already in the right place and need to consolidate across your enterprise?
– With one eye on the medium to long-term: what do we need to do to prepare for future years?
Part of developing the service is the third step to developing your indicator set. Though the specific stack will be worked through based on your priority pathways to monitor and manage, they will comprise a set of driver indicators that monitor key pressure points, alongside a set of watch indicators that alert you to key underpinning factors and trends likely to impact patient flow. This raises the following questions:
– Where do critical demand and supply decisions need to be made?
– Who needs to be alerted?
– How do you operate your suite of indicators in concert, orchestrating your response across partners?
Finally, ensure your system command centres operate as planned day-to-day. Fine-tune and optimise your operational services, and this will help you to transform ways of working and properly embed your new arrangements.
You will need the capacity and capability to engage effectively across health and care organisations, from ward to board, with teams that can be on hand to take care professionals through the changes needed to enable the right data to flow through the right points. Ultimately this is all about people working together, with the right tools to make the right decisions and designing SCCs so that trusted data flows effectively.
If you need some support, contact our System Command Centre team and we can work with you on your journey.
Here is our SCC playbook, which you can download using the banner below:
Paul Henderson has over 30 years of experience supporting the design and implementation of healthcare technology programmes that enable clients to transform the care and services they deliver for patients. He is an expert in population health data and analytics.