Measuring and helping to improve quality and equity of treatment for psychosis, supporting an ambitious and ground-breaking early intervention programme.
Psychosis is a condition that alters your perception of reality and is a severe and debilitating symptom of mental illness. It is known that early diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce its impact and lead much more quickly to a meaningful recovery and improved outlook.
Early intervention in psychosis (EIP) teams were set up in the late 1990s as part of the national service framework for mental health and, in 2015, NHS England committed to a new standard for EIP, to minimise wait time and improve equity of treatment for people experiencing first episode psychosis (FEP).
The Oxford-based South Region EIP Programme works to improve equity of EIP services across the south of England and, until 2015, was collecting and collating performance data from individual teams through Excel workbooks shared by email.
The EIP Programme Manager contacted us for help to develop tools in Excel, but it was immediately apparent that a change in thinking was needed: the process needed to be made less time-consuming and error-prone, more secure and reliable. Excel wasn’t going to be the answer.
We boldly proposed obviating the need for Excel, suggesting instead a secure, web-based application that would be accessed using a regular web browser. Our offer was to build a prototype and, if it didn’t match or exceed requirements, we would do the Excel work originally requested, for free!
Uptake of the new system, dubbed ‘EIP Matrix’, was immediate, and the reduction in turnaround time from data-gathering to action was so dramatic that, in the case of one service in southwest England, an increase of more than £1million in funding was reckoned to have bene expedited by more than 9 months.
Success of this early version created the appetite for a new, improved EIP Matrix that could boast an interactive and graphical dashboard, more sophisticated questioning, and reporting, so EIP Matrix v2 was created and the programme;’s success repeated and extended. In 2017, the team behind the programme was shortlisted for a prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) Award.
Every aspect of administering of the EIP Matrix is done in-house, testifying to the simplicity of design not only for its users but for managers too. The system was designed to be hosted and managed alongside others run by and for the EIP team. After some minor updates in 2017, there has been no call for development or fixes, nor for maintenance or support beyond standard server and software updates, which are all handled by the team’s own IT staff.
Right up to 2021 and beyond, the EIP Matrix has continued to play a critical role in the success of the South Region EIP Programme, underpinning each year’s annual report and providing the foundation for decisions about funding and resourcing of all EIP services across the south of England.
We required an exceptional software developer who could quickly translate user requirements into a simple, highly usable and reliable self-assessment tool to support multiple NHS and third sector organizations. Imaginative Software has been a joy to work with and exceeded our expectations.