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NHS 24 at SAPPHIRE NOW

It’s about 10 PM on a Saturday night and you quietly open the door to your son’s room to check on him.  Bobby is six years old and when he went to bed he told you he “didn’t feel too good.” He’s awake now and crying that his throat hurts. You check his temperature and it’s higher than normal.  It’s too late for the family doctor and you’re reluctant to take him to the emergency room if it’s just a cold and a sore throat.  What to do? Well, if you live in Scotland, you call NHS 24.

NHS 24 is a public sector organization that is part of the National Health Service of Scotland, providing unscheduled care to its citizens. It is both an online and a telephone-based service that, as per their website, is designed to “help you to get the right care, from the right people, at the right time.”  A person who is unwell during the time when their doctor is unavailable, phones NHS 24. Through nurse triage, the service then delivers appropriate care for that person by providing healthcare advice on the phone, or sending them to A&E (Accident & Emergency), or making arrangements for an ambulance, depending on the situation.  Sixteen hundred full time staff members, answering about one and a half million calls per year in centers throughout the country, serve a population of approximately five million people.

In operation for ten years, this innovative organization has always used information technology to support the delivery of their healthcare services. Facing the expiration of current technology contracts, NHS 24 began the tendering process to purchase a complete new information solution to satisfy a wide range of requirements from customer relationship management to the analysis of large amounts of data for decision making.

Given the number of customer calls, patient records, and other knowledge assets within the organization, a key challenge was managing and making effective use of an enormous amount of data. NHS 24 needed faster query response times in order to use this data to empower decision makers throughout the organization and within the larger National Health Service. Healthcare administrators also wanted flexible applications that could support new health services quickly with minimal updating. Finally, NHS 24 was looking for a single portal solution rather than a number of disparate and poorly integrated applications.

NHS 24 selected SAP to provide the information technology necessary to support its frontline services to the citizens of Scotland. Working together, SAP and Capgemini, NHS 24’s chosen implementation partner, established an application landscape that included SAP Customer Relationship Management to help support the call centers, SAP Business Communications Management for telephony needs, SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA and SAP BusinessObjects solutions for speedy data analysis, and SAP Extended Enterprise Content Management by OpenText for knowledge management.

According to Alistair Gibson, the head of technology for NHS 24, “We’re quite excited about the opportunity and improvements we can [now] make from a reporting perspective and a management information perspective.”  Going forward they feel they have made an investment in leading-edge information technology, not legacy-type systems—they were able to “buy what the future will be.”

And, what about Bobby? NHS 24’s advice was just what your own mother would have said: cold compresses and baby aspirin to bring down the fever, lozenges for the sore throat, and plenty of fluids with lots of rest for that nasty cold.

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