England hospital awarded top global digital healthcare award

By Leila Hawkins
Sunderland Royal Hospital gains accreditation that recognises its digital transformation...

A hospital in the north of England has been named as one of the most digitally advanced organisations in the whole of the UK's National Health Service (NHS). 

Sunderland Royal Hospital is the only hospital in the north of England to be awarded Level 7 status from the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS). In doing so it joins the group of around 50 hospitals in the world to have achieved the accreditation.

The award was given following a two-day virtual assessment in December 2020, during which HIMSS assessors observed clinical and operational teams in action. 

The hospital is part of the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, one of the most digitally advanced organisations in the NHS. In September 2016, Sunderland Royal Hospital became one of the first Trusts in the country to be confirmed onto the national Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme, helping to share its digital expertise across the NHS.  

Since then, South Tyneside District Hospital is now also part of the GDE fast follower programme and is already a year ahead of schedule for ‘paper-free’ HIMSS accreditation after adopting the Meditech electronic patient record in October 2019.

The hospital actually began its digital journey almost 30 years ago by making its first tentative steps towards a fully integrated electronic patient record. 

Today the Meditech electronic patient record is used across the hospital, giving clinical teams access to live patient information in all departments, including the emergency department, inpatient wards, a diagnostic area or operating theatre. 

The advanced Meditech solution allows staff to update patient information in real time, prescribe medication, as well as integrate to monitors and record vital signs from the bedside using scanning technology and digital patient wristbands. The system also integrates with the Great North Care Record (Health Information Exchange), meaning the information gathered in the Meditech solution is available to other healthcare settings across the north of England. 

Commenting on the achievement, Dr Kevin Joisce, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Chief Clinical Information Officer at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is fantastic news for our patients and testament to the hard work and dedication of all clinical colleagues who have truly embraced our digital ambitions to make them a reality in Sunderland.  

“Using the most up-to-date and advanced digital systems is part and parcel of our ethos and how we want to deliver patient care, and to achieve Level 7 accreditation reflects the digital maturity of our Trust. Technology is embedded in everything we do, in all clinical processes and our nursing workflows to an extent where we have successfully eliminated our reliance on historic paper-based systems. 

“Our Board have long championed the use of technology with a clear and ongoing commitment to improve patient safety and the overall quality of clinical care through the effective use and deployment of digital solutions. This is an important milestone for the organisation, and one that we will continue to build upon in the years ahead” he added. 

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