About a month ago, I posted a blog entitled Beginning a Revolution to announce our strategic partner for Project Swift (System Wide Information for Transformation). To recap, Project Swift is about using modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to redesign services and support for new models of care which better meet the needs of our community, enable integration of primary, community and hospital services, and improve efficiency. A few days after that post was published, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it had had a significant number of hits within 48 hours, revealing the huge level of interest in this truly ground-breaking project.
With that interest in mind, I’d like to update you on how Project Swift has progressed in its first few weeks since IBM came on board as our strategic partner. To do so I’m joined by Sarah Thirlwall, our Director of Strategic ICT Transformation, and Ben Tulloch, Leader of Strategy, Innovation and Solutions for IBM.
Project Swift is currently working through a 12-week programme, the first week of which was a ‘discovery’ phase to allow IBM to get up to speed with CM Health. Last week (week two), we sought to understand the current challenges and problems facing our clinicians, our patients and our community (and it seems we all share similar frustrations about time wasted thanks to computers not doing what they should!). Through a series of workshops and our online ideas tool, we have heard some incredibly constructive and honest feedback as well as ideas with great potential, all of which will prove useful as we move forward. There has been a fantastic level of interest and engagement to date, and we really thank everyone who has taken the time to contribute and be involved so far. There is an incredible amount of passion evident among those we have met – passion for our patients and passion for what we are trying to achieve for our community, which is both admirable and inspiring.
Already we are starting to see some common themes emerge as conversation has shifted from low-level specific problems to the broader strategic challenges we need to address. We’re seeing people move from an “I need to fix this” mindset to a “we need to do things differently” realisation which is fantastic, particularly in the few short weeks we’ve had. To give you an example, in some workshops we’ve been talking a lot about the idea of the ‘activated consumer’ and how we can support people to make informed decisions and better help themselves so that their dependence on the health system is limited to when they really need it. That’s not about moving healthcare from secondary to primary care, but actually about transferring the power and responsibility to the community and to the individual. Of course, this has also introduced a lot of conversation around health literacy, so at the same time we’re thinking about how we can design ICT that empowers people. Through Project Swift, we want to ensure that patients make the right decisions armed with the right information and the capability to use it.
What is also becoming clear is that individual departments within CM Health are already performing really efficiently. Merely becoming a little bit more efficient every year will certainly fail to bring about the level of transformation and change required to deliver the results our health system needs. As we take the next step, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done not independently in silos, but together as a team. The whole point of transformation is about how we pull services together to work collaboratively and share information in order to get better value for the patient. Certainly ICT is critically important in helping us do just that.
This week Project Swift enters a different phase, where we will begin to look at the benefits of addressing the challenges that have been raised, and then prioritizing the challenges accordingly. But it’s not too late to have your say or get involved. The online ideas tool will remain open this week so please do take a moment to register if you would like to contribute your thoughts or take a look at what others have had to say. We’d also encourage you to check our Project Swift website which is regularly updated, including with information from the workshops for those who aren’t able to join us.
Once we have prioritized our challenges, we will then move into a solution generating phase with the intention of having an agreed set of short, medium and long-term strategic initiatives identified by September. Our expectation is that some of the short-term ICT solutions will then be operational next year. It’s a really exciting time and we are grateful for the support and enthusiasm of all who are working with us through this very crucial stage of the process. As Albert Einstein himself said: “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.”
Geraint, Sarah and Ben