Forging the path to a smart hospital 

Stuart MacLellan and his team are helping shape the digital transformation of South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, Britain’s Oldest Mental health Trust part of the national healthcare system. The Chief Technology Officer believes that, aside from technology, what counts most in digitalization are the people and the right environment that you create. Software AG is helping him achieve that.

The growing importance of mental health 

South London and Maudsley is an integral part of the United Kingdom’s national healthcare system. With more than 5,000 member of staff, the trust offers a wide range of mental health and substance misuse services.  Its hospitals and facilities serve a population of around 1.3 million people, primarily providing services in four boroughs in South London. South London and Maudsley is a member of the Academic Health Sciences Centre, King’s Health Partners and together with King’s College London, it manages the UK’s only specialist NIHR mental health Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Describing the current challenges, MacLellan says, “South London and Maudsley’s work and research have always been relevant, but through the pandemic, now more so than ever before.” He continues, “We have seen an increase in the number of people experiencing mental health conditions. The demand for counseling and therapy continues to grow.” 

Clarity, transparency, and equity

As part of another digital project, South London and Maudsley introduced a new blood test for the use of antipsychotics that shortens the average turnaround time of results from 10 days to just six minutes. Antipsychotics are a type of drug used primarily in the treatment of schizophrenia and obsessive or delusional behaviors. Thanks to the new test, medical staff can make fast yet clinically based decisions about a course of treatment and include the patient from the start. “According to estimates, the new procedure could potentially reduce the length of a hospital stay from three months to just three weeks,” adds MacLellan. “That is invaluable given the current demand for NHS mental health services. And at the same time, it gives patients more control over their own treatment.”

But technology isn’t everything to the CTO. Corporate and leadership cultures are just as important. When it comes to digitalization, MacLellan believes that South London and Maudsley’s overarching goals must be communicated clearly and transparently to all employees to empower them to meet their sub-goals independently. That means listening closely and creating a fair and productive environment for the team.

“Of course we aren’t always successful, and we have a lot of work ahead of us. But we are seeing great progress,” he says. “Digital transformation isn’t an abstract concept. Our digital services have a real and positive impact on the lives of many people and patients.”

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