The client

Healthcare Improvement Scotland is a public body which is part of the Scottish National Health Service. The aim of the organisation is to provide better quality health and social care for everyone in Scotland. The organisation’s remit is to support health and social care services, from hospitals to care providers. One of the organisations supported by Healthcare Improvement Scotland is the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), which advises NHS Scotland on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of new medicines.

The challenge

The SMC’s Horizon Scanning function improves financial planning at Health Board level by providing early intelligence on new medicines in development.  The Horizon Scanning team gathers information on these medicines through engagement with clinical specialists and the pharmaceutical industry.  The team’s submission process involves the analysis of information supplied by the medicine manufacturer on the health benefits of the medicine and justification of its price. The aim of the process is to make sure that those medicines which represent good value for money are accepted for routine use as quickly as possible so that they can benefit patients.

The SMC used a disparate collection of spreadsheets, databases and network drives to manage the Horizon Scanning and submissions processes. The organisation identified a requirement to leverage the existing Health Improvement Scotland CRM platform and develop a unified platform to support both Horizon Scanning and submissions. There was also a need for an internet portal to streamline interaction with the submission process for external users such as pharmaceutical companies, patient groups and subject matter experts.

The solution

TrueNorth was engaged to identify the client’s technical requirements and to subsequently deliver a series of Dynamics CRM customisations and an internet portal. The aim of the portal was to enable external contacts to interact directly with the submission process.

An initial discovery and proof of concept phase was carried out. During this phase, the first versions of the Dynamics CRM customisations were developed on TrueNorth’s Azure platform and demonstrated to the SMC. This ensured that the customisations met the client’s requirements and could be implemented with minimal risk.

The remainder of the project was split into several phases, with fortnightly sprints and playbacks of the completed work to Health Improvement Scotland and the SMC. This iterative approach meant that each phase had the optimum function and design. The phases included:

  • Completion of the submissions system to a point where it could be used as the main system for managing submissions, including data migration from the existing systems;
  • Extension of the system to the Horizon Scanning CRM;
  • Enquiry tracking implementation;
  • Portal to allow users to interact directly with the submission process, including self service submissions, respond to questions and provide feedback on the relevant submissions.

The target environment was Dynamics CRM 2011. Where practical, all customisations were developed using Microsoft-supported features to minimise any rework required prior to a future upgrade of the platform.

After a series of staff training sessions carried out by Gareth Davies, the senior TrueNorth consultant who led the project, the new version of the CRM went live and staff began to input new submissions. The system has now been rolled out to all internal and external users. The result is a more efficient workflow and thorough documentation of new submissions.