Somerset NHS Foundation Trust chooses Synergy as their costing solution
Heling Somerset NHS join up their costing data
Somerset NHS Foundation trust (SFT) is the first trust on English mainland to provide community, mental health and acute hospital services. We spoke to Peter Fry, Head of Costing and SLR, about the recent trust changes and how Synergy is helping them join up their costing data.
In 2017, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust formed an alliance designed to support a close working relationship between the two trusts. Later that year, the trusts moved to working from a single, joined up set of objectives that spanned across all services.
As this approach progressed and colleagues reported on the benefit gained from working in this way, they sought to go a step further and formally merge. This came to fruition in April 2020, where the trusts merged to become Somerset Foundation NHS Trust.
Prior to the merger, Peter had come from working on the mental health and community costing side at Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation trust, and since the merger is now is working with an income and costing team of six, who work across all services (acute, mental health and community) and cover costing, service line reporting (SLR), contract and reporting.
Choosing a single costing solution
Initially, both trusts had been using different costing solutions, and so a decision had to be made on a sole solution to take them forward.
Peter explains “When we merged and we were considering which solution to go with, during our search we spoke to a lot of other trusts who told us their stories around how they were using CACI’s recent developments in Synergy and the good experience and improvements they were able to make through using it”.
There were a number of factors that impacted the decision to elect CACI and Synergy as their costing solution, and flexibility with complex data, was a high priority on the list.
“Having worked with Synergy before, we knew the way worked would fit our needs for flexibility. Unlike other providers, with Synergy you get given the software, you get given the training and then you can go away and develop it yourself and build it out however you need. That flexibility for a trust like ours which covers acute, mental health and community was incredibly important. We needed a solution that made sense for our organisation – and Synergy makes complete sense for us”
Peter goes on to describe the benefit, both technically and financially, for the costing team of being able to develop and build in Synergy.
“We’ve got a really good costing team in house, so we weren’t looking for a provider who would go away and do all of the work for us. In addition to the high costs involved of a provider doing it all for us, we wanted to build it ourselves so we know how it works, and when we share the data with people we know how each and every cost has been arrived at, and can communicate that effectively. So, when we sat down to review which solution to go with, it was very clear that Synergy was the logical decision and would work better with our requirements”.
Finally, Peter talks about how the outputs from Synergy will become extremely important in the coming months and so this was also a big factor when choosing a solution.
“The output is also something that’s really important, and the ability to output data into other front-end analytics solutions like Power BI, means Synergy delivers even more value and cost savings to the trust – none of the other providers we were looking at could do that. This also means, as our information team already use Power BI, we’re not having to force others to use a different tool in order to look at our costs.”
Getting Synergy up and running
The costing team at SFT are currently getting everything ready for their submission in September and Peter tells us that the feedback has already been positive from his colleagues.
“My team really enjoy using Synergy. We’re still developing our costing model to reflect what we’re doing as a trust, and we’re looking forward to the outputs we want to get out of it and how we can use those going forwards”
Other aspects such as training received and the interaction with the CACI customer care team, have meant Peter’s costing team, who don’t come from a costing background, have been able to hit the ground running.
“The training on Synergy was great, especially for a new team who aren’t traditional costing professionals; we have a junior doctor, a graduate and a colleague from management accounting. The customer care team has also been really good, responsive and very helpful. I really couldn’t have asked for more from CACI”.
What does the future hold?
SFT have shown themselves over the past few years to be a progressive trust that are willing to make real change that improve the wellbeing of patients across all of their services. So, what’s next for them?
“We’re looking forward to the next steps, working with CACI team to start building our dashboards and getting insights out of the data that we can use to support decision making across the trust”
“Long term, as an integrated trust we want to be rolling out analytics such as looking at patient pathways across all of the different services. So, for example, if we invest in a mental health team, does that decrease the number of A&E contacts and meaning less people have a need for those acute services. Costing data will really help with that”
Alongside Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, NHS trusts across the UK are choosing CACI and Synergy as their partner and costing solution to help drive patient outcomes, redesign services and much more.
Humber NHS Foundation Trust and Croydon Health Services NHS Trust have also shared their stories on how Synergy is helping make improvements.
Find out about how Synergy works and see what it could do for your Trust here.