The NHS trust leading the digital revolution

Data experts at a Kent NHS trust at the heart of the NHS digital revolution have signed up at least 30 NHS trusts for their award-winning solutions to improve patient care.
By Rosy Matheson
03:14 AM

The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation trust stands to make a significant contribution to the gargantuan task of digitising the NHS.


NHSX Chief Exec Matthew Gould has previously likened this task, to “eating an elephant” on account of the vast number of systems and the byzantine maze of data trails within the NHS. Luckily these data experts have an appetite for a challenge.

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They have created a dedicated information and analytics team, headed by demographics’ expert Dr Marc Farr, which is described as “one of the most mature data frameworks of any trust”. They have even developed their own brand called Beautiful Information. Farr, previously with Doctor Foster Intelligence, arrived at the trust with a clear agenda.


Farr said: “My mission was to separate informatics from IT, raise the profile of information and develop a strategy which would build a central team delivering actionable, real-time data. My ambition was to create the most transparent trust in the country.”

With an executive mandate, Farr recruited a team that could work effectively with front-line doctors. “It’s clinicians that deliver patient care and any informatic strategy needs their expertise and buy-in. I opened up the dialogue, so we knew their challenges and they then trusted that we were all working towards the same goal; better, more efficient patient care.”

Richard Ewins was appointed as a product manager and he focused on building solutions to drive improvement, leading to the creation of an Operational Control Centre with real-time data feeds, informing live service across the whole trust. There are now 35 Patient Tracking Lists with associated digital ward boards offering patient and bed level status with notifications and care alerts.

“Our ‘Smarties’ dashboards use a simple color-coded button system. Anyone from the CEO to a staff nurse can see the same information on any device at any time,” said Farr. It’s an approach which now seems to have served others well as Beautiful Information have exported their products, whilst winning a NESTA ‘New Radicals’ award and a ‘HSJ Patient Safety’ nomination. He said thirty NHS trusts and organisations are already using their solutions and expertise, including NHS Improvement, who use their data collection mechanism nationally.

“We’re still ambitious. We’ve expanded our brief to help assess and improve national standards, manage regional operational control and integrated data sets. Ultimately, patient data should flow seamlessly across Primary and Secondary Care and into Community Care.”

Their next milestone is to help set standards with The Health Foundation. Their nationwide data maturity assessment tool for NHS trusts launches in November. With political and NHS leaders now driving the agenda, Beautiful Information seems to be riding the rising tide of NHS standards.

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