Andrew Meiner

Plans for Silverlink, a consistent data platform and what it means to be “best of breed”

Andrew Meiner sets out his plans for Silverlink as their newly appointed Managing Director and Chief Commercial Officer. He talks Swedish influences, the power of open data and what it really means to take a ‘best of breed’ approach to digital transformation.

Joining Silverlink Software is hugely exciting for me. I am already relishing the challenge of introducing my industry knowledge and experience to my new role as Managing Director and Chief Commercial Officer. Coming from a “quasi-tech” background, I am keen to further consolidate our position as a trusted healthcare supplier, bringing with me some tried and tested methods as well as some fresh thinking to maintain our position as a reliable partner to the NHS.

However, over the course of the pandemic, traditional ways of working have been brought up for review and digital transformation has been accelerated at an unprecedented rate. We have seen an upsurge in digital outpatient appointments, widespread adoption of electronic prescribing and the joining up of care through integrated care systems (ICSs), to name a few. With digital strategies and organisational strategies becoming synonymous with one another, the way that we look at digital transformation needs a refresh. Even so, joining Silverlink is by no means a restructuring mission. Rather, I want to build upon the already incredible work done before me, whilst meeting the new challenges caused by COVID-19 and addressing new government aspirations.

A consistent data platform

Matt Hancock’s announcement earlier this year about committing to an ‘open platform’ highlights the need for a new perspective on digital transformation. For me, having spent a number of years visiting Sweden and witnessing the benefits of a fully integrated care system, I think a similar approach should be taken in the UK, with emphasis placed on a joined-up model with applications that can talk to each other. In Sweden, the healthcare system is highly decentralised, so that different healthcare providers have more control over their services and can offer more tailored care that is specific to patients’ needs. The model, I’d describe, is ‘less beds, more tech’, with systems utilising patient data to reduce health inequalities. In 2015, a budget was allocated to build six regional cancer centres which gave patients more streamlined access to treatment, reducing their waiting times.

With an open system, those on the frontline have ownership over the data model, meaning the information they need is in their hands when they need it. Further to this, it is important that information can be translated across different contexts so clinicians have real time access to their patient’s data, as and when they need it, which will naturally result in better outcomes.

With free-flowing data and empowered clinicians, we can foster the creation of ICSs by focusing less on what software we have and more on the service we provide to our customers, so we can support them best in their data journeys. It’s our aim to help organisations recognise the capabilities of data when it is open and accessible and most importantly, usable.

Unlocking the power of data

The pandemic and its many challenges have brought to light how important it is to be able to access and, more importantly, use patient data. But as organisations start to accelerate their digital capabilities and explore the potential of data, it’s important that they continue to treat every patient as an individual and tailor their services accordingly. This is where collaborating with other suppliers will be important for us, and doing so will continue to be an integral part of our strategy so we can create an ecosystem of partnerships throughout the NHS.

Through collaboration, there is an increased awareness of the issues that have been caused by the pandemic. Technological advances and sharing of data have highlighted pressures that we otherwise wouldn’t have as much visibility of, for example the backlog figures. By collaborating, we can see and understand different patients’ needs in real time, be able to address these challenges and start to reduce the negative impacts the pandemic has caused.

Best of breed 2.0

Whilst the fallout from the pandemic has been devastating, the past year has also revealed some incredible innovations across the healthcare sector. The market has become populated with highly sophisticated systems to improve patient outcomes, and such an atmosphere means that organisations are able to make informed decisions about which digital transformation route is best for them to follow. Every trust or healthcare organisation is unique with different needs and finding the ‘best’ provider for each aspect of the care system is vitally important, especially as we make the move towards ICSs.

For me, the concept of ‘best of breed’ is evolving. In my opinion, the traditional methodology wasn’t ‘best of breed’ at all, it was a lot of different systems trying to join up, despite the fact that the data was embedded in the separate systems. When American suppliers entered the UK, they removed that problem by providing a full suite of software with all data stored in one place, but for a hefty price. By way of contrast, with the introduction of platforms, ‘best of breed 2.0’ provides the flexibility to pick and choose which applications are needed, whilst also ensuring interoperability of systems and the data they collect, at an affordable rate. As we move towards an integrated care model, this approach can provide the infrastructure for such a system to work. In fact, ‘best of breed 2.0’ is about more than just being able to interface or view information held in other systems but having bi-directional capabilities to assist the flow of data in and out of the Patient Administration System, so it can be best utilised to improve the patient journey.

 The future of Silverlink Software

It’s time for us to move away from being just a software provider, and work increasingly collaboratively with our customers so we can continue to provide a service that is tailored to their individual needs. Across the healthcare system, we’re all aligned to the goal of improving patient care and I want Silverlink to play an even more active role in achieving that. One important way we want to do this is by helping organisations to understand that a ‘joined up’ system means more than providing an interface for data, but actually being able to facilitate bi-directional flows of information to supplement better care. We are experiencing incredible change in the healthcare IT space and digital transformation is on the national agenda; I’m excited to see Silverlink’s role play out in the adoption of open data standards, as the company evolves to meet the new challenges and opportunities that lay ahead.