Interview with Tamas Szeredi, Head of Service Development, NEL

The NHS is under more pressure than ever to increase efficiency and protect the public’s experience of the service. At the same time, there’s an awareness that better understanding through data can help make the service more proactive and preventative instead of reactive.

Version 1 has been working to help NEL provide this kind of innovation to its customers. We spoke with Tamas Szeredi, their Head of Service Development about the project and how it represents a new direction for digital transformation in the NHS.

So Tamas, tell us about the situation before you started this project.

Tamas: “From hospitals through to primary care GPs, we’re covering a population of 16 million people across 42 clinical groups, managing more than £10bn of NHS Contracts.

The existing methods involved ageing technologies and cumbersome data processes for managing and storing data. This was costly to maintain and manage, and really quite inflexible to change. For example, our Data Flow Specialists might find themselves pushing over 3000 flows to multiple databases, with the same or filtered versions duplicated over 30 times.

This just wasn’t sustainable, and maintenance was a headache – but also, there was no leeway for mistakes because corrections would have to be repeated the same number of times.”

What are you able to do now that wasn’t possible before?

Tamas:We can now refresh the data once, and everyone will be able to use the same environment with low-level access. This means there is no delay and it is available to all stakeholders at the same time.

This reduces the time we need to spend managing this, and the costs for maintenance, licensing and patching. Therefore, our DBAs can focus on areas like improving performance and indexing.

The data environment can be scaled up or down within minutes. It also enables new technology such as Machine Learning, AI and other features.

The benefits of this project are apparent in three main areas: for patients, for healthcare professionals, and for our team.”

Let’s start with the patients — tell us more.

Tamas: “The system approach can shift from reactive to proactive. Getting real-time data and connecting it with different systems allows clinicians to make better decisions. Both the patient and caregiver can get an overall picture of data across any device.

Meanwhile, hospitals can be given the ability to analyse activity across the system instead of only seeing restricted information. This increases the number of patients who can benefit from predictive interventions and save them the need to go to the hospital if the condition is allowed to continue.”

And what about the benefits for healthcare professionals?

Tamas: “This is about how the current providers and commissioners are working together and how they can support an integrated system. Because it had run through several systems, by the time the data had been processed and had reached its destination, you couldn’t always guarantee that we were looking at the same thing. This meant a lot of time was spent reconciling and confirming information.

With the new system in place, we can grant them permission with secure governance through an Office 365 account and internet connection. It makes the system transparent, and the data more trustworthy. This allows greater transparency between data sets and between different organisations.

During the proof of concept project at St. George’s Mental Health, we learned the importance of seeing more information. Even in aggregate form, it has helped them (St. George’s Mental Health) to identify patients attending A&E daily for support, who could have been prevented and treated earlier if the right team and care were identified sooner.

It also allows us to use new visualisation tools, as for some people, data doesn’t mean anything without the right visualisation. For example, mapping can be done in a few minutes and allows changes between presentation layers in seconds. It becomes an interactive tool where you can do analysis while talking with clinicians and can identify opportunities instantly instead of waiting days. That’s really satisfying.”

What lead NEL to choose Version 1 as a partner for this project?

Tamas: “We needed an expert on Azure who would understand our systems and bring the knowledge and experience to help us move into a new environment. We worked out a hybrid and flexible model to develop and learn from Version 1 at the same time. In the last couple of years, we’ve been looking at Product Management and Service Development, trying to align to Agile methodology. So, Version 1’s expertise in project management was very helpful and beneficial.

Version 1 introduced us to Azure DevOps, helped us set up boards and get a system in place for daily stand-ups and sprint planning. This really helped us implant Agile Methodology in the day-to-day. This helped us to create time by prioritising resources between critical and ‘business as usual’ work.”

Thank you to Tamas Szeredi, Head of Service Development at NEL for speaking to Version 1 about our recent Azure Data Migration collaboration. 

Transforming the NHS with NEL – Customer Success Story

NEL engaged Version 1 as part of a co-funded project with South West London (SWL) to migrate a number of shared datasets to Microsoft Azure. This would enable NEL’s clients (such as South West London) to access the same datasets from multiple sites simultaneously and securely. Altogether, NEL now has a more secure, transparent and accurate source of data for patients and caregivers alike. Read the full Customer Success Story below to learn more about this migration.