The NHS and IBM’s
Smarter Healthcare Vision
The people of the UK place a high value on the NHS but also place increasing demands on the care and services it provides. The NHS is moving into a new era of unprecedented pressure to do more, to do it better, but for less money. The challenges and uncertainties that currently face the NHS need to be addressed in part by innovative healthcare solutions driven by a Smarter Healthcare Vision.
The NHS and IBM’s Smarter
Smarter Healthcare is the way ahead. It uses advanced
technology to generate and share accurate information
in real-time. It turns that information into insight, which is
the essential tool for every NHS decision-maker from
clinicians, to managers and directors, to enhance their
ability to make effective decisions, quickly, based upon
the most up to date information.
Smarter Healthcare simultaneously enables healthcare
providers to electronically collect and store the data needed
to deliver a full range of high-quality patient-centred services.
It ensures their systems exchange all relevant information in
real-time, and it builds systems that evolve and adapt to
changing needs. In short, Smarter Healthcare systems are
instrumented, interconnected and intelligent.
The NHS is good at collecting data, via manual methods
and being well instrumented. However, it has difficulty in
sharing information and maximising its usefulness. Many
NHS organisations rely upon stand-alone systems; their
information is trapped in silos.
All these difficulties prevent the NHS from building intelligent
information systems which can help it learn and adapt to
changing needs. Smarter Healthcare solutions solve these
problems. They meet the needs of organisations of many
sizes and types, and they allow existing systems and
assets to be maintained, ensuring the best return on
Smarter Healthcare is ideally suited to the NHS as it allows
services to become more joined up, breaking through
traditional service and technology barriers, and enabling
healthcare professionals to collaborate – delivering the best
possible care, whatever the setting and circumstances.
Smarter Healthcare focuses upon three key practical
goals for the NHS:
Smarter Healthcare Delivers
Smarter Healthcare solutions support staff in every area
from frontline care to finance, and from IT to commissioning.
They are ideal for the primary care as well as the acute
sectors. A key facet is that they adapt to change, which is
essential for the NHS with the emergence in England of
GP-led commissioning and the growing emphasis on
The NHS finds Smarter Healthcare solutions so effective
because they are built around five essentials:
• Interoperability – it’s an absolute must to link up
existing systems so they can access and update the
information they hold
• Aggregation – so information from different sources can
be selected and usefully grouped
• Intelligent Views – displaying information (whether it’s
the written word, charts or medical images) in ways that
are intuitive and easy to use
• Contextualisation – ensuring information is displayed in
its proper context and can be fully understood, allowing
• Analytics – the ability to identify trends and exceptions
and predict future service requirements. There are many
examples of advantages that Smarter Healthcare has
brought to the NHS.
Clinical risk was reduced at one trust by introducing a
solution for the remote monitoring of medical devices,
keeping staff in constant touch with the condition of
patients accommodated in single rooms. Performance
and efficiency were improved at a second trust thanks
to a clinical portal which aggregated information from core
systems, such as pathology and pharmacy, to provide
clinicians with a real-time patient care summary. Elsewhere,
outcomes were improved thanks to a tracking system
which ensured referral to treatment targets were met –
also allowing better resource management and yielding
higher levels of patient satisfaction.