Cerner Ireland responds to draft budget 2011-15 announced by the Minister for Finance and Personnel


March. 2nd, 2011 /Hospital & Healthcare Management/ Healthcare Market Report :-– Cerner Ireland have responded to the draft budget proposed by Northern Ireland’s government. The ‘Draft Budget 2011-15’ was announced by the Minister for Finance and Personnel on 15 December 2010 and, as this year’s budget takes place during a particularly difficult fiscal environment, it is clear that all departments need to make significant resource savings.

The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland is no exception. Facing a key challenge of delivering its objectives while maintaining services within a budget allocation significantly below the level of assessed need, the draft budget is set to have major implications for service delivery. On the basis of the proposed allocation for the DHSSPS, the extent of shortfall against assessed need by 2014-15 is more than £800 million (15%), presenting a real challenge for the department to deliver effective Health, Social Care and Public Safety while using resources in the most effective way.

Cerner Ireland, which opened an office in Dublin in 2007, has acknowledged the difficult decisions and operational challenges facing the DHSSPS in Northern Ireland. They focused their response upon information and its role in maximising available resources and improving the health and social well-being of the people in Northern Ireland.

Amanda Green, Managing Director, Cerner Ireland said: "Like many economies, Northern Ireland faces a challenging financial outlook whilst trying to reform public services to improve quality and efficiency. If you look at every other industry that has tried to make similar changes, all have been achieved with investment in technology. Health and social care is no different. Now is the time to take full advantage of the benefits of IT and Change Management.

Cerner has extensive experience from around the world of working with our clients to continually improve the way health and social care is delivered. We hope that our response to this consultation demonstrates our sustained commitment to a longer term relationship with the Northern Ireland government to bring about better patient outcomes, financial savings and improvements in health and social care."

Cerner welcomes the DHSSPS’s commitment to create a society in which its citizens take greater responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, whilst ensuring that those who need it have access to the highest standards of care. In its response, Cerner has addressed two key information drivers for making resource savings to fund health and social services:

– Information ownership supported by tools to enable individuals to manage their own health and well-being, thus reducing the demand for health and social services; and

– Information availability to facilitate the integration of health and social care pathways across multiple providers, thus improving quality and efficiency of health and social services

The two enablers that Cerner believes are crucial to making these things possible are:

– The development of a personal health platform, to promote health and wellbeing and facilitate the care of patients with long-term conditions; and

– The adoption of data standards and information repositories to support health and social care professionals provide high quality care along the patient pathway

Cerner’s response includes an offer to share its intellectual property with the DHSSPS on a commercially-confidential basis, as and when this may be of assistance.

Information availability

To provide efficient, effective and safe care along the pathway, healthcare professionals would benefit from having access to the patient’s entire medical record. Cerner Ireland has advised the DHSSPS of the need for a completely comprehensive record, which will prevent duplication of administrative and clinical functions, as well as the performance of unnecessary tests and procedures, all of which can make the delivery of care unnecessarily expensive and arduous for providers and patients.

Giving clinicians access to information held about the patient on multiple disparate systems would reduce administrative overheads and release a significant amount of time to the care and wellbeing of the patient, wherever they are in the pathway.

An innovative approach to information ownership would be to develop a personal health platform for all citizens in Northern Ireland. A personal health platform goes beyond a basic online repository of self-entered health information (personal health record) and allows connected health and social care providers to contribute and participate directly in the proactive management of the population’s health.

Developing information repositories and data standards

A solution to the challenge of information availability would be to form a Health Information Exchange (HIE) for Northern Ireland. HIE is a partnership of organisations that share healthcare information about patients with other providers connected to the HIE, compiling all contributions into a single patient record. This single patient record can be accessed directly at the point of contact by those with a legitimate need to do so but also serves a source of clinically validated information about the patient to compliment or incorporate into a providers own records.

Some good examples are the Lewis and Clark Information Exchange (LACIE), a fully operational non-profit HIE which is consolidating lab results, radiology information, medication history and allergies into a single comprehensive electronic medical record for individuals living in the Midwest of the United States of America and Secure Medical Records Transfer Network (SMRTNet), an HIE covering 3.4 million citizens and 2,700 clinical users in Oklahoma.

Having quick access to comprehensive records not only improves the efficiency of providing care at the point of contact but allows providers to focus on wellness, care coordination, service improvement, innovation and research.

We believe that the DHSSPS should encourage its Health and Social Care Trusts to look into forming their own health information exchange and work with its’ own Professional Groups and the health information technology community .

Mindful of the need to allocate scarce resources appropriately, Cerner recommends approaching providers with the expertise and scale to design, implement and maintain the HIE in partnership with the Health and Social Care Trusts, leveraging existing ICT investments and resources. HIE, as an overarching information backbone, can be implemented with limited capital investment. Once in place many core enterprise services, for example referrals, booking, scheduling, master patient index, disease registries, care pathways; can be also be provided across the shared infrastructure, considerably reducing local administration, support, management and maintenance costs and introducing far ranging efficiencies and cost savings.