July 03, 2012

MasterChef, healthcare and computers – what’s that about?

Every now and then new ingredients, cooking methods, trends and gadgets emerge that challenge recipes, menus and how they are served. Constructing the right menu with recipes to attract your target clientele, satisfy their needs and deliver a positive customer experience whilst maintaining a financial balance, is a tricky business.

MasterChef seeks to find cooks who are able to meet the demands of this tricky business by designing innovative menus and recipes, whilst possessing the skills to deliver them as appetising dishes to ‘wow’ their customers into returning time and time again. This requires a good palate to know how ingredients work well together, how each course complements the other, the accompanying wine and how it is best served to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Sometimes the recipe for success does not work, with customers experiencing long queues and waiting times for tables, food served cold or wrong dishes supplied, expensive or incorrect bills or worse still, food poisoning!  Sound familiar? Restaurants in this position are often unaware that by adding some new ingredients, recipes or changing how it is served can deliver much-improved outcomes for their customers and owners. Cue Gordon Ramsey … and the bleeper!

So why change the recipe?

Sometimes new menus and recipes are needed to meet changing expectations (new treatments?), changing trends (changing best clinical practice?) or new competition from new local providers (new commissioning world?). The crucial point is knowing why and what you need to change as this will determine what you need to do to achieve your goals.

In healthcare, changing expectations and trends create drivers to change the recipe for specific health services, such as the management of wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

The introduction of Lucentis challenged the established recipe for managing wet AMD by driving changes in clinician / patient expectation and clinical practice. For the new ingredient to be successful, a new wet AMD service recipe was required. Patients receiving Lucentis require a monthly assessment and potential treatment for the rest of their lives. With approximately 26,000 new cases each year in an ageing population, this equates to potentially 1 million new out-patient appointments over the next 3 years. A new ingredient is creating capacity and speed of service issues providing the ‘why’ to change the recipe.

The ingredients for the wet AMD recipe includes optometrists, nurses, administrators, retinal specialists, specialist equipment e.g. OCT scanners and a location to operate the service from, all of which combine to determine the local capacity and speed of service.

Retinal specialists are looking at how the ingredient mix needs to change and operate to meet the customer expectation and demand. Some retinal specialists have identified their new recipe mix needs a mobile clinic to take their service closer to their patients and a new ideal clinic workflow to optimise clinic efficiency. However, to deliver the in-clinic efficiency gains and enable mobile units to operate as part of a joined up service, required a new supporting mobile electronic patient management system.

Black Pear was engaged and together with the retinal specialists, designed an app (iRIS) to deliver their ideal clinical workflows to optimise clinics and patient care, using myHealthFile, our interoperable cloud services framework clinical system with native applications.

iRIS was designed and deployed through an agile process. This provided iterative releases of specific functionality with defined utility and value, with customer use and feedback informing subsequent releases to provide the ideal service operation and avoid over complicating or over-cooking the recipe.

This approach enabled the ideal blending of ingredients to achieve their recipe, tailoring it precisely to their needs working with the wider menu (interoperability) such as the Acute Trust, OCT scanners, networks, links with the referring GPs and of course, the patients.

The new recipe has improved capacity and accessibility with a clinic operation that delivers consistent quality and outcomes including customer feedback via PROMS to ensure they are meeting their customer’s expectations.

The pressure within the NHS to improve quality and deliver improved outcomes whilst looking to save money or optimise resources, is driving providers and commissioners to look for new sustainable ways of working, new recipes for success.

Wet AMD is one recipe in need of attention; there are plenty of others such as Dementia, Diabetes, Stroke, Child Health Surveillance and Maternity Services.

We have some unique ingredients and a few good cooks (not too many to spoil the broth!) to underpin new recipes or ehance existing ones. One of our ingredients is a local Worcestershire beer called, ironically, Black Pear, which like the company is named after the county symbol.

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