Originally there was a paper system at the Trust which was generating tens of thousands of pieces of paper and an awful lot of administrative labour. I proposed that we move this into an IT system, which we built in 2002 – since then 100 hospitals and healthcare centres have gone on to use it.
In 2005, in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians, we designed a generic questionnaire which would be suitable for all doctors, regardless of specialty. The General Medical Council and Academy of Royal Medical Colleges provided funded this project. We continue to work with the Royal College of Physicians today to improve the quality of healthcare through feedback. Additional specialty questions are now being developed. All questionnaires undergo research trials and are independently validated by Professor James Crossley, an expert in this field, based at the University of Sheffield.
In 2011 Equiniti acquired 360 Clinical and we went on to build the Revalidation Management System (RMS). I chose to work with Equiniti on the journey of revalidation for doctors because of the organisation’s background in online portfolio management and vast experience in share registration management. So we created an online portfolio and appraisal system which is now used by 60 healthcare sites. A cohort of Royal Medical Colleges also have their online portfolios incorporated into the system with links feeding in from their CPD systems. The RMS system also feeds into the GMC revalidation IT platform
Why were products like this required by the healthcare industry?
The healthcare sector was trying to adhere to regulatory requirements and keep the public safe, but paper systems were unwieldy and required far too much administrative maintenance. It was stressful and took doctors away from patients. We wanted to improve the quality of the healthcare industry while saving time and money for the NHS and other healthcare organisations.
Has it been successful?
Definitely. In fact, there is a lot of Kings Fund research which proves that the revalidation process has been successful and IT systems play an important part in that. It has been very rewarding for me to hear stories of how healthcare has improved through doctors reflecting on feedback and other clinical governance information.
The 360 feedback system is excellent and has helped thousands of doctors reflect on their practice. It has streamlined everything, made administrative processes so much more efficient and also enabled healthcare professionals to access this feedback on their practice anywhere.
What are the future plans for Equiniti 360 Clinical?
Other allied healthcare professionals are next! We are currently building a new product which is called E360 – this will provide online appraisals and portfolios for all healthcare staff, not just doctors. We will look after the regulatory needs for all clinical staff, for example nurses and midwives (because revalidation begins in January 2016 for this group), pharmacists and physiotherapists and also help focus improving development of admin staff, managers and more through appraisals and organisational objectives and values.
Through a collaboration with the Royal College of Nursing and key individuals in nursing and midwifery, we have created a 360 feedback tool that can be used for nurses and midwives for revalidation and we are looking forward to piloting that this year.
Do you see this product becoming a nationwide application? What are the challenges it faces?
In an ideal world it will be a nationwide provision across the healthcare sector, but there is a little case of a resistance to change which could inhibit its widespread adoption. Nurses and midwives have not had to do anything like this before, with third-party sign-offs, it’s all new to them. There are many organisations which are anxious to start the process, though, and we hope to help organisations through this period of adaption.
Will revalidation become mandatory for all healthcare staff?
It will be a mandatory requirement for nurses and midwives from January 2016. A number of other groups have started reflecting on key information already. It is a legal requirement for all doctors now and in a year’s time, it will be mandatory for the majority of clinical staff.
How will this present problems for the healthcare sector?
There is no way that average size healthcare organisations will be able to handle all this manually. Some of them employ around 5,000 members of staff, so it will be an enormous challenge. We want to help them by offering the provision of easy to use online products, all appropriate training, and by supporting the change management process. Currently, we look after 360 feedback for all doctors across the whole of Wales, there have been benefits to recognising how patients value the doctors there. It has provided a feel good factor where the press are often negative about healthcare.
We are hoping the same can be achieved for nursing. We are also managing 360 feedback for healthcare organisations in New Zealand are potentially looking at partnering with Australasia too. It’s clearly a global requirement.
How does Equiniti’s expertise in technology help to forefront the healthcare industry in this way?
The 360 feedback system is excellent and has helped thousands of doctors reflect on their practice. It has streamlined everything, made administrative processes so much more efficient and also enabled healthcare professionals to access this feedback on their practice anywhere. If doctors work over a number of sites or even take part in international work, we collate feedback from all settings. Over one hundred healthcare organisations use this system and this has mainly come about through word of mouth.
The new E360 clinical system is the new generation of revalidation products, and has been designed with expert user interface designers, and will change operational processes for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals. In the same way that an iPhone doesn’t really come with any instructions – it is user-friendly and easy to familiarise yourself with – the product will be easy to use and will incorporate help videos, so that even the most fearful of IT will be able to get to grips with it. We will still have available our helpline however so that anyone can speak to someone who can help them if they need to.
The product will have full functionality on tablets and an iPad. The current RMS product has only partial functionality on a tablet so this is a new development for the E360 product. The ability to save documents via a tablet, take photos of the certificate and walk around a hospital or healthcare centre with a fully functional questionnaire really is the future of healthcare technology.
It has been such a rewarding experience building and launching Equiniti 360 Clinical and its products because we have made a contribution to the constant improvement of healthcare, and we are extremely excited about the future and our ability to further improve the healthcare sector with even more technology-based solutions.