More mobile, agile and connected – A digital vision of charity St Andrew’s Healthcare


Why has a 179-year old charity decided to switch outsource partners and commit to cloud and service management?

Health NHSOn the first of September, a big change for charity St Andrew’s Healthcare is coming: a switchover from an outsourcing partner it’s been relying on for five years to a completely new supplier.

But for the organisation’s director of business change and IT, Leslie Ross, while a lots is going to change back stage, as far as the 900 patients and 4,500 staff he helps support are concerned, there should be nothing to notice at all in that transition:

We’ve been working on a transition plan since the start of June, so I expect a completely seamless handover.

That’s not to say the replacement of St Andrew’s’ incumbent IT resource with a new one in the shape of Advanced IT Services is in any sense a ‘business as usual’ deal. In fact, quite the opposite; Ross, who reports directly to the board and is a part of the Northampton-based non-profit’s executive leadership team, sees the new five-year contract as nothing less than transformative.

From day one I also want to see new capability that will give us a dashboard that will track our performance much more clearly, delivering true digital transformation in the long run.

Our board is looking to this as a major step-change in the charity in terms of our IT capability and delivery.

To underline how big a deal this really is, Ross points out that the contract to Advanced was only awarded after an exhaustive evaluation process that whittled down an original list of 67 suppliers to just one.

Though no specific figure’s being released, the deal is also valued in the ‘multi-million’ bracket, he adds.

So stability, but also major change? How is that circle to be squared? For Ross, it’s a very simple equation; fix some immediate issues now, but move very quickly to a new tech era at the organisation based around a big commitment to Service Management and cloud – with these acting in turn as the planned basis of a move to much more aggressive use of data to radically improve delivery of service to patients, in a proactive manner.

In other words, Advanced will act as the main partner for a digital transformation move that will position it to do the best job it can for its patients, 90% of whom are referred by the NHS with some of the most complex and challenging mental health needs in the country.

That’s because, he stresses:

In healthcare it’s critical to find the right partner – one who can provide added value thanks to deep understanding and experience of the sector, especially in managing secure, hosted environments and transformative projects.

I’m confident a collaborative approach will help both parties achieve long-term value, reducing the overall total cost of ownership.

That’s going to happen via a full IT outsourcing arrangement whereby Advanced will manage all the support services that St Andrew’s Healthcare needs, from desktop to datacentre, including 24×7 hosted infrastructure management initially on dedicated infrastructure but soon on Microsoft Azure, plus backup and disaster recovery services.

The supplier is also being tasked with immediate responsibility for a number of important ‘in-flight’ projects, adds Ross – but even all this isn’t all, as the Service Management aspect of the firm’s capability was also a major draw.

We need, in order, to stabilise what we do, which will come from Advanced’s professional IT services, then help us migrate to the cloud. Then we need some major infrastructure projects to get us fully up to date delivered, and then we want to be on a full Service Management regime to keep our full estate both safe and managed by a full lifecycle management process.

Security is also a factor, he adds, as are moves to become “more mobile, agile and connected”, with a staggered delivery plan for enhancements timetabled for the next two years.

Digital vision

As stated, Service Management will be the guiding force in all this. Ross says four ITIL processes are due to be in place within the first three months, eight by the end of the first year of the contract, and more planned for year two.

In year two and beyond, the plan is to focus, adds Ross, on supporting patients with tools to help their therapy and access to friends and family, data and leveraging Internet of Things functionality so as to enable external suppliers’ secure access to reduce costs while protecting St Andrew’s’ core systems.

Data, incidentally, is key to the organisation’s digital vision.

We have a big data warehouse project on the go, but we also want to start using data more and more as a way to both value and validate outcomes. We see data as being key to our future, no doubt about it.

Sounds indeed like a lot’s about to happen – but if Ross has anything to do with it, change will either be invisible or only positive, it seems.

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