THIS – an innovative, collaborative brand of health informatics

The Health Informatics Service (THIS) is an innovative, collaborative NHS organisation providing digital and IT services to health and care providers across the UK in primary, secondary and third sectors, particularly NHS health trusts, GPs, laboratories, hospices and not-for-profit healthcare organisations.
It enables new, empowering, efficient, and secure communications and IT services for its host trust - the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) - and its healthcare clients.
Digital health solutions delivered by THIS for CHFT have helped to make it one of the most digitally mature trusts in England.
Rob Birkett, THIS’ Managing Director of Digital Health, says: “We’re in a unique position in terms of delivering across an array of services and sectors. For example, we know as much about GP systems as we do about a radiology department. There are not many other organisations in that position.”
Based in Elland in West Yorkshire, THIS is marked its 21st anniversary in 2022. Its services fall into three broad categories:

  • IT operational support – service desk, network support, data centre support and infrastructure, collaboration, and innovation with clients.
  • Professional services – programme and project management, Information Governance (IG), Registration Authority (RA), education, training, and development.
  • Information services – business intelligence, clinical coding, THIS knowledge portal.

Innovation and collaboration in action

THIS collaborated with two major suppliers to create a link between CHFT’s drug prescription system, hosted on EMIS software, and its Electronic Patient Record (EPR), hosted by Cerner Millennium. It is a first-of-type solution across the NHS, which has removed the need for duplicated tasks between two standalone systems.

Working in partnership with Nuance Dragon Medical One, a cloud-based solution hosted on Microsoft Azure, THIS is pioneering the use of Voice Recognition technology in CHFT’s musculoskeletal and physiotherapy services to reduce repetitive tasks surrounding the recording, checking and despatch of patients’ clinical notes and letters.

Working with Zebra handheld computers, THIS has developed new uses for the devices that were originally used for scanning patient and medicine bar codes to ensure the right people were receiving the right treatments. They're now being used for additional purposes such as video calls via Microsoft Teams for patients to connect with relatives – invaluable during the pandemic - and updating records in real time at the bedside.
Operational support in action
THIS has forged a strong partnership with Spectrum Community Health CIC since its inception 10 years ago, supporting its IT infrastructure as it continues to expand and develop.
It delivers a range of community and offender healthcare services on behalf of the NHS, local authority public health services and other partners at 18 prisons, four sexual health services and a wealth of community health services across the North of England.
THIS’ most recent work with Spectrum has seen it successfully complete two large scale projects:

  • Support the transition of IT services at seven prisons in the North East after Spectrum won the management contract to run them.
  • Migrate Spectrum’s on-premise IT infrastructure to a cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 solution providing improved functionality, security and integration across approximately 1,200 staff.

Sharon Hardcastle, Spectrum’s Director of Finance, says: “The ‘can-do’ and proactive attitude adopted by THIS has contributed significantly to our successful delivery of services. We work in some of the most challenging environments with complex security considerations and the flexibility to support and develop workable solutions has always been provided by the experienced THIS teams.”
THIS currently employs nine project managers of varying seniority, plus a project support officer, and typically facilitates 40-50 projects for its host trust and other clients at any one time. All project managers employed by THIS are Prince2 practitioners and base their work on the seven processes of that methodology.
Professional services in action
Ensuring that right to privacy remains intact, THIS provides clients throughout the UK with knowledge, guidance and expertise on all aspects of Information Governance (IG) and Registration Authority (RA)
Information Governance covers a huge spectrum of activity ranging from Freedom of Information (FOI), data protection and confidentiality to IT security, anti-virus assurance and internet filtering and reporting. THIS’ award-winning IG service provides consultancy, training and learning products.
Helen McNae, THIS’ Data Protection Officer, says: “Many NHS organisations have an IG officer and/or data protection officer within their organisation, who are responsible for the data they handle. The beauty of working with THIS is we can work with an organisation without really being visible to make them safe, secure, and compliant. We make them compliant before they really have to worry about it, taking up the slack for them and providing peace of mind.”
THIS’ RA service currently provides support to over 400 customer organisations, which equates to approximately 40,000 active Smartcards. Its clients include its host trust, other NHS foundation trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), GP practices, pharmacies, local authorities, social enterprises, hospices and universities.

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