North East Ambulance Service joins global digital programme

Service chosen as digital exemplar

North East Ambulance Service has been given a share of £5m to help improve patient care through technology.

NEAS is one of three ambulance services to join the Global Digital Exemplar programme in recognition of its track record of digital delivery, which has included:

  • Being the first ambulance trust to deliver NHS111 services
  • Being the first to roll out the airwave radio and communications system service wide
  • Having the longest continuous use of an electronic patient record system within ambulance trusts
  • Being the first NHS111 provider to deliver region wide GP bookings

The programme aims to join up and digitalise health systems to provide clinicians with more timely access to accurate information and support service change.

The money, which is being match funded by NEAS, will allow the Trust to:

  • Obtain and improve access to shared local and national systems to better support patient care and allow for a seamless onward handover to other parts of the health system
  • Improve Trust-wide and personal performance information sharing internally to better empower and engage employees
  • Develop a simulator which allows NEAS and other ambulance services to be able to model impacts of planned system changes
  • Expand the successful Pathfinder service, trialled in Sunderland, which allows clinicians to safely refer suitable patients to alternative services to A&E, and develop software which is adaptable for other ambulance services
  • Improve technology within the electronic patient record systems to improve CPR feedback and better manage medicines
  • Develop a better way of ambulance systems digitally passing patient information to hospital and urgent care systems
  • Develop a way for frontline crews to seek advice from clinicians within the Emergency Operations Centre via video link, which could be further expanded to care homes and potentially the public

Lynne Hodgson, director of finance and resources at NEAS, said: “We have been at the forefront of developing technological solutions to support the advancement of urgent and emergency care.

As the regional ambulance service, NEAS forms a critical part of the care process, bridging primary, secondary and acute care. We only touch patients for a short period of time, with little knowledge of their medical history but often in their most desperate times of need. It is therefore vital that we ensure we are informed as possible when we are needed.

“The initiatives we are pursuing through this programme will help us to make better use of technology to improve the care and treatment decisions our clinicians make for our patients.

“Having been given this opportunity to progress and ultimately become an Ambulance Digital Exemplar, we will be able to share the learning and developments with the wider ambulance sector.”

Prof Jonathan Benger, national clinical director for urgent and emergency care at NHS England, said: “Digital technology has the potential to transform ways of working and improve patient care in ambulance trusts, from ensuring paramedics can access a patient’s medical record to improving trust efficiency in systems behind the scenes.”

Will Smart, chief information officer for Health and Care, said: “By stepping up to become world class these three Trusts will join the most digitally advanced healthcare organisations across the globe and help deliver a sustainable and transformed NHS.”

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