Customer story

How South London and Maudsley is 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. 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.

When Stuart MacLellan and his family decided to move to South London some years ago, they found a house they liked with a pond in the garden. Beneath the water’s surface glided red-and-white patterned koi fish. These noble carp breeds originally from Japan wouldn’t have been able to accompany the previous owners on their move. MacLellan was fascinated by their elegance and serenity. Since then, koi have become his favorite hobby. “I take care of them every day and make sure their living conditions are optimal to keep them healthy and happy,” he says. “Care means responsibility.”

This is how the 48-year-old approaches his professional life as well. As Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, he is responsible for around 100 specialists that are building smart hospitals through connectivity and digitalization. He clearly sees the parallels with his hobby: “I am certain that digital transformation depends first and foremost on the people, the right environment, and the right conditions you create. Good will come out of 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.” 

The NHS is facing significant challenges and is under considerable financial strain. For these reasons, it is clear to the CTO that digital technologies are key to becoming more efficient, which allows clinical staff to focus on patients and provide quality care and treatment. MacLellan and his team have rolled out a variety of digital projects to gradually move closer to these goals and they are relying on Software AG. Bethlem Royal Hospital recently became the first hospital in Great Britain to have a Private 5G-supported cloud.  This makes it possible to fully leverage the potential of Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT with a wide range of applications. 

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One study, for example, is examining how virtual reality can enhance the treatment of patients with eating disorders to encourage positive behavioral changes or alleviate anxiety in specific situations. IoT is also useful for monitoring refrigerators remotely to ensure medication is stored at optimal temperatures and maximize shelf life. Furthermore, IoT technology supports clinical staff on their rounds. With the help on a new app for tablets, they can update patient records immediately from any location. This saves precious time and allows for more detailed documentation of patient histories. 

Clarity, transparency, and equity

As part of another digital project as part of their smart hospital push, 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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