“A lot of data is now centralised and we’ve got a single version of the truth… we’re finally able to make evidence-based decisions.”
Before Meson-BI, multiple siloed systems were making progress impossible for the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. Now, the Trust stands poised to cut costs and improve patient care.
As Informatics Manager for the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS), Zarna Phipps is responsible for reporting metrics such as ambulance response times and patient outcomes, as well as working with operational managers to move these metrics in the right direction.
As one might imagine, it’s a difficult task – especially when no-one really knows what the metrics are in the first place.
Such was the situation at the Trust, when multiple systems meant NEAS managers had either little or no clarity of how the Trust was performing.
Multiple systems and a lack of clarity
“Initially, staff across the Trust were using a number of different, siloed systems,” recalls Zarna, as she reels off separate systems for staffing and human resources, patient care, emergency call logs and vehicle health, “and each of them defined things in slightly different terms. So when you tried to pull a report off the numbers would vary depending on which system you were using, or how the person running the report was interpreting the question.”
In the absence of clarity, the Trust was struggling to progress. In fact, they couldn’t even limit existing inefficiencies. They needed a new solution to give better insight to improve Trust performance.
One, unifying Business Intelligence solution
Zarna was aware of the Business Intelligence issues when she first stepped into her.
In fact, she’d already been searching for a new system for NEAS. She wanted one, unifying solution that the entire Trust could use, ideally with a proven track record, that would help the Trust progress.
“We went with Meson-BI in the end, primarily because the East Midlands Ambulance Service were already using it and had a very positive experience,” Zarna says. “I also knew that we had a lack of SharePoint skills in house, so to have a consultancy that could come in and help implement a front-end solution for us would save time, effort and therefore money.”
So Zarna contracted Cloud2 to implement her new solution and the Meson-BI team quickly got to work.
500,000 emergency calls per year
Understandably, Zarna was nervous about the migration. Her Trust answers almost 500,000 emergency calls a year, so there could be no upsets.
“They were really great, actually,” Zarna now says, referring to the Cloud2 team. “We had already begun the work to build the Trust’s data warehouse to populate Meson-BI. We have started to switch off our old reporting tables one by one. It means there are no complications or troubles at all from the user’s perspective.”
And when it came to it, Zarna was hot on training the Trust’s employees, too. She made sure everyone knew why they were switching, what Meson-BI would allow them to do and how the new SharePoint solution could make their lives easier.
“Then later on, we asked for super-users,” says Zarna.
“They got a bit more training on advanced functionality and could help people with questions – so staff so staff always had someone to ask if they were ever unsure. Actually, we’ve already seen improvements”
But has Meson-BI helped the NEAS improve patient care? When quizzed, Zarna Phipps is as positive as ever:
A lot of data is now centralised through the BI portal, and we’ve got a single version of the truth from creation of our data warehouse,” she notes. “It’s the starting point we need to move forward. Managers are finally able to make evidence-based decisions.”
Armed with the right tools, Zarna and her team are beginning to help colleagues understand which levers to pull to improve the Trust’s performance. And, as Zarna talks of introducing additional dashboards and scorecards, it’s evident she’s going to be using them to maximum effect…
Effective and award-winning individual team sites
Insights and understanding aren’t the only benefits the Trust are now enjoying, either.
As Meson-BI simply builds on SharePoint functionality, the solution is allowing the Trust to communicate more efficiently. Individual units have used Meson-BI to build their own team websites – and are using just about every built-in feature SharePoint offers.
“Our operations centre, which is the area that takes all of the 999 calls, set up their own team site and now use it for uploading training materials, memos, opening discussions – essentially, anything they need to communicate throughout the team,” Zarna notes. “They really took the functionality of SharePoint and ran with it – and it actually went on to win an award!”
The award Zarna is referring to is in fact a Customer Contact Innovation Award – which the team site scooped after it reduced patient-serious incidents by 79% in one year and reduced team operating costs by £400,000.
Impressive stats, given the site is simply an offshoot of a Business Intelligence solution.
An NHS Trust now on the way up
Before Meson-BI, Zarna and her team were running to stand still. Multiple systems meant messy data and uncertain conclusions – if indeed conclusions could ever be drawn.
Now, NEAS are on a straight and narrow path. Equipped with Meson-BI, the Trust has a firm grasp of how performance can be influenced – and is using the newfound knowledge to both weed out inefficiencies and improve patient care.
Staff at the Trust already have a plan to improve KPIs by making more granular information available to wider audiences, including the frontline. And they have a second plan to encourage staff and managers to seek out answers by querying information themselves. It certainly seems like, thanks to the Informatics Department and Meson BI, business intelligence is on the way up.
Quite remarkable, when you consider what things were like just a few years ago.
And that’s important for a Trust providing emergency services.← Other stories