One of the key ways to drive delivery of the Knowledge for Healthcare vision is by ensuring the healthcare workforce has quick and easy access to relevant digital knowledge and evidence resources at the point of need. This is the focus of the Resource Discovery work stream.
HEE and NICE (and their predecessor organisations) have provided the same basic digital resource access infrastructure – comprising HDAS search, a national Link Resolver/Knowledge Base and OpenAthens authentication – for many years. There are also multiple library management systems in use across the country, and an increasing number of locally-implemented discovery systems. With changing user preferences and expectations, shifting digital and publishing environments, advances in technology, and ever present financial scrutiny, there was a clear need to review – and potential to modernise and streamline – the infrastructure.
We had already collected information and opinion about the LMS and discovery systems in place and about products on the market, with desk research undertaken on behalf of HEE by Catherine Micklethwaite (Library Service Manager at Torbay & South Devon NHS Trust). This made a significant contribution to our understanding of the status quo and possible future options, but the sheer complexity of the operational landscape means there was no obvious single way forward. The audit of NHS library services previously undertaken by Ciber Research Ltd had recommended ‘a national discovery engine’ and ‘a single national LMS’ but we felt these recommendations needed further scrutiny. We decided some external expert input would help us to crystallise our goals and articulate our strategy, and following a tendering process, selected Ken Chad Consulting to provide this.
Ken’s approach was to facilitate a series of five stakeholder workshops. We invited a mix of librarians to participate, including those working in strategic/resource management roles in HEE and NICE, and those managing services/resources and supporting staff at local level in healthcare settings and so close to end-user needs (see below for a list of participants).
Each workshop had a different focus:
- The situation ‘as is’: what do we and our systems currently do, why and what are the pain points?
- Strategy: given the context, our customers, the competition and our capabilities, what is it that we should focus on achieving, by when?
- Jobs to be done: what jobs do our customers need to get done? What problems do they need to solve?
- Value propositions: what are the value propositions (benefits) our system(s) can provide? Can our customers get these elsewhere?
- Keep, stop, add: given all the above, what do we and our systems need to keep doing, stop doing and start doing?
The workshops generated a lot of discussion and debate, information and insight. Amongst the conclusions to emerge are that:
- The goal should be ‘to provide NHS staff with a single national gateway to their trusted library and knowledge service, connecting them seamlessly to quality resources, services and support, tailored to their needs’.
- The two most critical drivers are to provide end users with a better experience, and to reduce the complexity of the existing fragmented infrastructure, which is contributing both to deficiencies in user experience and high maintenance costs.
- Our initial focus should be on end-user (non-expert) discovery and access to local and national resources. HDAS and native interfaces are for the most part meeting the needs of advanced/expert searchers.
- We should invest in a single national discovery system, with an integrated knowledge base/link resolver, end-user article requesting and a library staff interface for mediated document sourcing and supply.
- Although a single national LMS is not realistic in the short or medium term, we should plan to transition from legacy library management systems, to fewer, more modern systems which would use the discovery layer of the national discovery system.
The HEE Resource Discovery workstream leads have developed a plan of work to take forward these recommendations. If you would like more information, or are interested in being involved, please contact any of the following HEE staff:
Midlands and East: Richard Bridgen
North: Dominic Gilroy
Helen Alper, Kaye Bagshaw, Helen Bingham, Igor Brbre, Sue Lacey Bryant, Richard Bridgen, Ruth Carlyle, Alan Fricker, Dominic Gilroy, Helene Gorring, Natasha Howard, Celestine Johnston, Sarah Maddock, Catherine Micklethwaite, Tracey Pratchett, Lucy Reid, Marion Spring, Jenny Toller, Fran Wilkie, Helen Williams.