When customers blow you away

Alastair Allen
2 min readMay 20, 2022

This week the Better team were hosted for a series of on-site workshops in Manchester by the wonderful team at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.

We were privileged to get a tour of the largest single cancer site in Europe and see first-hand how the team are pioneering innovative solutions to cancer care. The picture below is taken outside the Proton Beam Therapy Centre, where we listened to stories of how this therapy is being used to help reduce the risk of long-term side effects that can sometimes develop after standard radiotherapy.

The Proton Beam Therapy Centre

From a technology perspective, The Christie has completely reimagined their architecture — moving from a siloed app-centric model to a new data-centric one, with openEHR at the core. Around this, they are using open APIs and low-code development to rapidly transform how they will deliver care to over 60,000 patients per year. They will be able to do this at scale as they are starting with the data — establishing an interoperable system that will not rely on messaging to communicate information between systems.

This slide gives a high-level view of their architecture.

EHR platform using openEHR

One of the first services the Christie team are developing on the Better platform is a PROMS service, allowing patients to report their outcomes and the quality of care delivered. The service is being built using the Better low-code Studio, with the data collected being used to improve patient engagement, increase care team collaboration and enable ongoing service improvement across The Christie — including therapies such as proton beam.

I often speak to people who understand this idea of a data-centred architecture and want to adopt it but are worried about how — or where — to start. What I have seen this week not only demonstrates that this can be done but also illustrates one of the best ways to go about it:

  1. Establish a clear vision and strategy.
  2. Adopt agile, iterative methods of development, where work is prioritised based on value and outcomes are measured.
  3. Gradually “strangle” the existing stack while moving to the new target state.

What The Christie is doing is genuinely phenomenal and has blown me away this week. I have written in the past Why openEHR is Eating Healthcare and the benefits a data-centred architecture can bring. This week is yet another example of how this movement is happening right now in front of us.

The only question now is, who’s next?

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Alastair Allen

Football fan and Partner at EY | Board Member @openEHR_UK