10 Feb 2011

Source: Limited Business Integration Resources Could Spell Disaster For NHS Trusts

An insider at a leading NHS Trust reveals that strict NHS regulations combined with limited business integration support and know-how could lead to a total breakdown in the UK healthcare system.

Key NHS Trusts throughout Great Britain run the risk of incurring massive penalties and seeing a collapse of their administration should their integration engines break down, says an insider at a leading NHS Trust. The result of a major breakdown of an NHS Trust’s middleware – one that would last for more than a day – could lead to patients being unable to get test results or even admitted to hospital.

In spite of the fact that NHS Trusts require a sophisticated system to report patient information and manage administrative affairs – all of which are rigorously enforced by strict penalties if regulations are not followed – many NHS Trusts have limited support resources for their business integration engines, and could not easily handle a major glitch should their middleware technology suffer a glitch.

Even more eye-opening is the fact that in many cases, the backup plan to surviving an integration engine shutdown at a major NSH Trust is nothing more than switching to a clumsy, cumbersome paper system, which would not be able to keep up with NHS regulations and administrative demands past 24 hours.

What An Integration Engine Means to an NHS Trust

While middleware and business integration are not necessarily household terms, integration technology that allows NHS Trusts to share information with the NHS, communicate with patients, and assign hospital beds, is truly the lifeblood of successful healthcare system – and a breakdown could even cost lives.

The integration engine of NHS Trusts’ business solutions is typically responsible for allocating beds and rooms in hospitals as well as scheduling patients for procedures and discharging them, all of which is communicated to the NHS as well.  Given the fact that many large hospitals maintain 60 to 100+ beds, it could easily mean that just a few days of using the paper-based backup system would create a massive logjam of work.

In addition, NHS Trusts also rely on their integration to meet the rigorous demands of NHS regulations. For example, patient discharge letters are required to be mailed out no more than 24 hours after a patient is discharged from hospital. NHS Trusts rely on automated systems to keep up with this demand. If the integration engine was unable to automate discharge letters, it would need to be done manually, and falling behind would result in crushing fines and a backlog of work.

NHS Trusts Need 24/7 Support For Their Integration Engines

Many NHS Trusts have extremely limited resources to handle any major problems with their integration engines. There might be just one IT professional within their organisation who has only limited knowledge of business integration technologies. And what if this one individual is on holiday in Portugal when the system goes down? This one facet of the healthcare system breaking down could affect thousands of lives.

Simply put, NHS Trusts are pinning all hopes on their integration engine not going down.

The real solution to avoiding an administrative collapse at an NHS Trust is to put 24/7 shared support in place for the integration technologies that are most often used in the British healthcare system, such as JCAPS and InterSystems Ensemble. Rather than relying on just one IT professional with limited knowledge, NHS Trusts should be able to fall back on a team of integration specialists who are licensed and accredited in the middleware technology that keeps healthcare systems running smoothly. That way, if the system breaks down – even if it’s in the middle of the night – there’s a team on hand who can immediately assess the problem before it develops into a massive nightmare for patients, hospitals, and the NHS.

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