Spotlight on: Ed Prosser-Snelling, Chief Digital Information Officer

Following the announcement last week that we have received the green light to proceed with our ambitious electronic patient record programme for the three hospitals, we turn the spotlight on Ed Prosser-Snelling, Chief Digital Information Officer and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, who has been tasked with seeing this programme through. He will also oversee the delivery of our new digital strategy from 2023-2026.

“Appointing a clinician into this role is a testament to how the Norfolk and Norwich is placing clinical safety at the heart of all our digital health developments, he said.

An assessment of our digital maturity in 2018 revealed that the three hospitals serving the Norfolk and Waveney area are the most digitally challenged in the whole country.

“We know that we have a huge need to improve our digital services for patients and for staff working within our hospitals,” he said. “Our ICB (Integrated Care Board) has a plan and, as a hospital, we are developing our own digital strategy. A fundamental part of this will be the installation of a core electronic patient record (EPR).

“The EPR will be the single most transformational, disruptive piece of work this Trust has seen since it moved sites more than 20 years ago.  We have been waiting for this since the opening of the new hospital and have had a number of false starts with programmes that never got off the ground. As part of our digital strategy, we will need to carefully understand the patchwork of systems we have at the moment, which ones will be replaced, and which ones will stay

“Over the last year there has been a great deal of work carried out in the background to improve the infrastructure, such as creating a new data centre, improving the fixed network, and moving our legacy systems from paper to digital, all in preparation ‘for the main event’.”

In our current timeline, we’re looking at a go-live in 2025, but the 24 months leading up to this will involve intense work across the organisation to get ready for this massive change.

It will be Ed who will lead this work for us – the sixth largest acute hospital in England.  He has a strong background in digital health leadership as well as a wider understanding of clinical quality improvement.  He has experience delivering large programmes of digital change such as electronic document management and electronic observations and virtual ward.

He is a graduate of the NHS Digital Health Leadership Academy and is also the Chair for the Norfolk and Waveney ICS (Integrated Care System) Three Hospital EPR Programme Clinical Design Authority.  He is also a member of the Faculty of Clinical Informatics.

Ed graduated first from Warwick University with joint honours in English and German Literature then studied medicine as a graduate at Nottingham University, graduating in 2007.  He completed his foundation and specialist training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in East Anglia, with entry onto the specialist register in 2018.  During higher training he completed a fellowship with the national medical director in medical leadership from 2014-15, gaining experience working in the central NHS and Royal Colleges.  He was elected to a consultant post at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals in April the same year and took on the role of Chief Clinical Information Officer and Associate Medical Director in December 2018. In 2022 he was appointed Chief Digital Information Officer.

He has wide experience in healthcare quality improvement, including work on national sentinel audit programmes such as Each Baby Counts and associated human factors training initiatives. He is published in the area of maternity safety and digital health.

Ed juggles this strategic work with his clinical work as a practicing pelvic surgeon, specialising in endometriosis and abnormally invasive placenta.  As such he has also previously served on the Council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

He said: “There will be huge benefits to patients when we can implement our digital strategy and the EPR. We know about the little things round the edges: reducing the amount of paper we use, getting rid of the problem of illegible handwriting and the benefit of accessing the patient record from anywhere at any time – but the really big thing will be the data.

“This will allow us to start to standardise patient care across the three hospitals and remove duplication. It will improve outcomes for our patients. All information that is stored on paper is inaccessible, but if you have it digitally you can ask questions and start to have a much more strategic approach to patient care.”

Implementing the new system will require all of us to work differently and to agree to protocols which will be put in place across all three hospitals.

“I am excited about the way forward” he said. “This will succeed because we have the right people on board. We have some stalwarts who have been here for ever and know the challenges we face as a hospital, but we will have to tap into the skills of everybody who has worked elsewhere with an EPR.  Our clinical change team have delivered Electronic Observations, Mediviewer and Alertive, through a pandemic and the difficulties of elective recovery.

“The technical team here at NNUH work incredibly hard every day and really are the unsung heroes of the organisation.  Ben Everitt, our Associate Director for Digital Health, is leading the technical workstream for the EPR and provides excellent leadership. Emily Wells leads our clinical team and has received national recognition for her work on virtual wards.

“The critical factor for success will be how much we manage to make this a whole hospital change programme, with representatives from all areas stepping up to face the challenge.  I’m proud to work at the Norfolk and Norwich and excited we have this once in a generation opportunity to finally enter the digital era.”

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