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You’ve Got to Be Able to Change the Tyres Without Getting Off the Road

Nicola Moss

Head of Marketing at Node4

At our last TransformIT event held at our Northampton offices in April, we invited BMI Healthcare’s IT Director, Ben Meade to deliver a keynote presentation on BMI's transition into the digital world.  All our delegates enjoyed Ben's session as it was really insightful, so here's a snapshot of it for those that missed the event. 

BMI’s biggest driver is delivering excellent patient care, one aspect of which is to ensure a great patient journey. To achieve this, patients need to benefit from easy access to Consultants and seamless communication at every stage of their journey. IT and technology at BMI supports, in some way, all of this.

Consultants want to work with private healthcare providers who make it easy to work with them.  Having user-friendly mobile apps which allow them to check their clinical schedules and communicate more easily with BMI teams illustrates how BMI is using IT to enhance their clinical experience.

BMI’s IT and technology focus is on facilitating the best patient care by improving processes, reducing administration and eliminating delay and duplication.    

BMI Healthcare has 58 hospitals and clinics ranging from flagship hospitals in Manchester, Glasgow and London through to smaller outpatient clinics and day surgery centres. As well as around 7,000 independent consultant surgeons, BMI has a substantive workforce of almost 10,000 clinical staff, hospital and central support staff, also supported by bank and agency flexible workers. Everyone – regardless of their role – uses IT in some form to contribute to quality patient care and experience.

“The IT landscape within most organisations is complex. It’s no different at BMI,” Ben said. “We have a number of legacy systems that need to be integrated seamlessly with planned new solutions. A great analogy to use is that of a bus which needs a change of tyres.  For a transformation programme to really work, you need to be able to change the tyres without getting off the road. We believe technology should only ever improve patient outcomes, but it needs to do so in a way that avoids disrupting BMI’s “business as usual” provision of quality patient care.”

Healthcare is a dynamic market: there are constant and rapid changes in both the private sector and the NHS, but also some great opportunities which ultimately lead to more informed choice and improved quality of care for patients.  A good example is the government-led initiative called the Private Healthcare Information Network, which operates like a ‘Trip Advisor’ for private healthcare by reporting on outcomes from all private healthcare providers, helping patients make more informed decisions.  “Transparency in reporting patient outcomes isn’t a problem, it’s an opportunity,” Ben said. “And improved IT will enable BMI to contribute reliable and timely datasets.”

When BMI engaged Node4, it was looking for consolidated hosting gateways for both virtual and physical servers and storage, as well as a complete new WAN solution. Following a competitive tender process Node4 won the contract by offering a tailored package which included WAN bandwidth, overall resilience with a BMI tailored “private cloud” hosting solution and a fully managed service approach which aligned with BMI’s wider strategic plans.

Critically, the Node4 solutions were specifically engineered for BMI as the business’ requirements needed custom built options rather than using Node4’s “public” hosting options.

“The solution that Node4 designed for BMI is fully resilient and acts as a gateway to other cloud services like AWS and Microsoft Azure,” Ben said. “It’s built on a more flexible and agile OpEx model and gives us a great opportunity to look at taking advantage of different cloud solutions as well as using purpose built, “private cloud” hosting with Node4.”

Node4 was also able to flex the project post contract-award since wider BMI business changes necessitated changes to the initial specification, working in close partnership with BMI.

Node4’s team of specialists has also been on hand to offer answers to BMI’s questions or suggest options.  In turn this level of knowledge has enabled Ben and BMI to make informed decisions.

“Everything has been running smoothly; Node4 keeps on top of the project and workload,” Ben said. “The Node4 team is extremely responsive – even for the new requirements we’ve presented to them recently; they’ve provided workable options quickly that we are really happy with and will build on going forward.”

“We’re pleased with our choice of provider; we’re working collaboratively and effectively in a very dynamic market.  Node4 has shown themselves to be an important part of BMI’s digital transformation journey”.

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