Cambric Systems News and Blog

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How does a commercial software company engage with the public service ethos of the NHS? (Part II)

Part I of this blog noted that it’s important for those, like me, who are engaged in selling to the NHS, to keep up to speed with the journals read by health service professionals. More specifically, I mentioned an opinion piece in the Nursing Times that was headed, “A culture of mass paperwork has set nursing staff up to fail”.

Written by Chris Tuckett, a physiotherapist, the article begins by noting that the author’s hospital “is fighting to survive in a climate of cutbacks and funding crises, while still trying desperately to offer safe and effective healthcare.”   However, he goes on, “the sheer volume of paperwork that nurses are expected to complete is shameful – and it has to be done while standing at the foot of a patient’s bed amid constant interruptions”.

Shameful – that’s a strong word, but I agree with him.  He concludes his article by saying, “there should, of course, be documentation, but a single set of integrated patient notes should be enough.”  Quite.  Yet it is as unlikely that a physiotherapist will know how to create software to integrate these notes as it is that a software developer will know how to aid a stroke victim to walk again.  That’s where the private sector does have a huge role to play.  While acknowledging that the NHS does have many talented IT people, the aforementioned “climate of cutbacks and funding crises” makes is very hard for them to find the time and money to solve Mr Tuckett’s problem.

This was amply illustrated in another of the articles I mentioned in my last blog, namely the recognition of the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation framework (CQUIN) that “increased integration (is) a clear aim of CQUIN indicators.”  More specifically, this was defined as “sharing information by linking IT systems across organisational boundaries and improving working relationships between disciplines and organisations.” 

A better description of what Cambric’s new Morse product does would be hard to find.  The inspiration for this software, as described in a previous blog here, was based on the real need for health professionals to share information, link IT systems and improve working relationships between disciplines and organisations.  Moreover, this inspiration came from Euan Nicol, one of Cambric’s directors, who on a visit to the Western Isles, met with some health visitors who told him about the difficulties they had getting access to all the information they need when they are out and about on their duties and then how they had no means of integrating the disparate sources of information from other areas of NHS work (such as physiotherapy, OT, radiography or whatever).  The IP on this exists within the skills and experience of Cambric, based on Euan’s many decades of working both within HR in the NHS and as an external supplier.  Together, as I noted in Part I of this blog, the private and public sectors create the opportunity for everyone to benefit, professionally and financially – and, I hope, in time that developments like Morse will allow Chris Tuckett to start to see the integrated paperwork he longs for, in turn freeing up his time spent so it can be spent where it does most good – with the patients who need his skills and experience.

Samantha Fyfe, Business Development Manager, Cambric Systems

Morse App – a developer’s perspective on supporting community health workers

My name is Eddy, and I am part of the development team for Cambric System's latest software package - which is called "Morse”.  The genesis of Morse was the realisation, following a visit to the Western Isles, that community healthcare professionals have considerable difficulty getting access to all the information they need when they are out and about on their duties and ‘out of range’ of the web. Everyone just accepted that was how things were.

However, following our visit to Stornoway, Garry Sherriff, our (Technical) Director, designed a very simple prototype that would handle the movement of data in and out of wi-fi zones and Morse was born. 

As a developer, I like to work on really challenging projects involving genuinely cutting-edge software.  Morse is indeed cutting-edge software.  Development follows the agile methodology and the software is being coded using only the latest technologies. It also works on both iOS and android devices, as well as on the PC. We’ve been using programming languages that are virtually straight out of the wrapper and consequently I’ve really enjoyed being involved in what, for me, is a fantastic example of how software should be developed.

Morse brings social care, primary and secondary care together into a single mobile app. It allows healthcare workers to securely and easily take patient information from their existing systems offline into the community.  Like all great ideas, it’s a simple solution to very real problems, specifically those healthcare professionals experience on a daily basis. No more lugging about heavy documents and paperwork for them; no more lost data and, equally importantly, vastly improved communication between everyone involved. Information can be shared between hospitals, clinicians and healthcare/social care workers at the click of a button. 

With built-in task scheduling, appointment booking and a secure direct messaging service, Morse will not only transform the way community healthcare professionals work, it will also save the NHS huge amounts of time and money. For example, referrals can be generated automatically, built-in GPS will help workers plan their routes more efficiently and the built-in device camera will even help speed up diagnosis and reduce the need for appointments.  It’s a real pleasure to have been involved in the programme and develop my skills on an app that has such amazing uses.

Finally, it is very important to remember that the real beneficiaries of the Morse App are the patients. By substantially streamline existing processes and freeing up more time, Morse can make a unique contribution to improving health outcomes for all those served by the dedicated health professionals working in our communities.

To find out more about Morse follow this link:

How does a commercial software company engage with the public service ethos of the NHS? (Part I)

The recent furore over recruitment agencies’ fees for nurses in the NHS has focused attention on all companies who work with the Health Service and make a profit from doing so.  Cambric is, unashamedly, a business that makes a profit from the Health Service but we are transparent about how we work and confident about the ways in which our software helps improve efficiencies and reduce costs.  

It is instructive therefore, to read the professional journals* that are the first port of call for many different disciplines, from doctors and nurses to AHPs and Health Visitors. This allows me to understand what they think about the day-to-day function of the NHS in which their subscribers work. It also helps me realise that they recognise many of their problems can be alleviated by outside assistance.

For me, as a salesperson charged with promoting Cambric’s products to NHS customers, it is vital to keep up to date with what health service professionals are writing and thinking. Consequently, I spend far more time than you might imagine with the likes of Nursing Times and the Journal of Health Visiting, especially given that our new Morse product is designed to make the lives of their readers easier and more efficient. One thing that is abundantly clear from my regular reading is the public service ethos that infuses the Health Service in our country.  Headlines such as “Nurses to lobby local leaders over impact of cuts to public health” and “The decency of human nature over protocol” testify to the commitment and humanity of those to whom we entrust our health.  Yet there are many other headlines and articles in these journals that illustrate exactly why the NHS has need of outside providers with whom to share its problems, challenges and opportunities.

For example, toward the end of 2015, the Nursing Times ran an Opinion piece entitled “A culture of mass paperwork has set nursing staff up to fail”.  Another article, from around the same time, looked at how research affects nursing practice, with a specific section considering how the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation framework (CQUIN) ties income to targets, with the former being reduced if that latter are not met. In this way, “service improvement and quality standards are heavily incentivised”. 

Clearly, the health service could not work without outside providers and agencies. Yet equally clearly it’s vital the latter engage honestly and openly with the former and set out their respective cases for the adoption of their products and/or services, all at a price which the nation can afford and a margin that allows further investment in new products/services to be made.  Profiteering, as has been suggested by some exists in the case of a few locum recruitment agencies, is wrong. Yet together there is opportunity for everyone to benefit, as I shall describe in Part II of this blog.

Samantha Fyfe, Business Development Manager, Cambric Systems

* It’s perhaps worth noting that these same professional journals, published independently of the public sector, also exist to make profit from the NHS! 

Taking Morse to the Highlands

Well ladies and gents, my efforts for the Highland trip were well rewarded on both my Emergency Department meeting and my efforts to get Jon singing.  The meeting went fantastically well; not only were they impressed with our ED demonstration but we also managed to discuss our RMS (referral management system) and our new offline solution Morse!  I am really looking forward to working closely with the Highland team.

As regards getting Jon Bradley singing, my goals were smashed: not only did I get Jon singing Shane McGowan (the Pogues) part of 'A Fairytale of New York' while I took Kirsty Maccoll’s part, I even got Jon hooked on peanut butter jelly! 

Having had such a great trip, I tried to replicate this on my visit to the Dakota Hotel with Garry Sherriff, one of Cambric's Directors.  We were there to discuss MorseIt went very well and we got some valuable feedback.  It was a very interesting meeting, introducing me to a different audience (beyond the NHS) to whom Morse's value was obvious. Exciting opportunities lie ahead! The best part was that not only were they interested in Morse but also in our Cortix Range – bed management care bundles -  and our Emergency Department module.  Unfortunately, unlike with Jon, my efforts to get Garry singing didn’t go too well, but I still have a few road trips with him ahead and, well, I’m a determined lady!  So if you have any suggestions for songs that might get Garry singing then please feel free to tweet your recommendations.

Off to the Highlands

Today, I’m on my travels with Jon Bradley again and once more we are off to show the benefits and features of our Emergency Department module.  

Having practised my Christmas carolling, I’m determined Jon will enjoy today’s trip and my efforts will be towards getting Jon to join in…..wish me luck!  The good news is that our meeting is in the Highlands, which means I have plenty of time to try and impress him, but the bad news for Jon is that it's going to be a long drive if he’s not enjoying my full vocal efforts.

I would like to stop at House of Bruar for a nice shop, but I don’t think we will have the time: in fact I think it best not to as there are far too many goodies in there and I’m on my Christmas budget.

I will keep you posted how our meeting went and, more importantly, whether I managed to convince my fellow traveller (Jon) to come back on the road with me.

A Snowy Trip to Forth Valley

Today I had the privilege of travelling alongside Jon Bradley, one of our senior software engineers, to demonstrate our Emergency Department module to the Stirling team at Forth Valley NHS.

The morning started off with a few jokes, all because Jon was wearing a suit. Granted, it’s not often we see Jon dressed quite so sharply, and to be fair I did laugh when asked whose funeral we were attending!

The drive through was interesting to say the least, due to this wonderful Scottish weather! The snow and sleet were out in force and despite it causing some problems on the road, the views were amazing, I always love seeing beautiful, snow topped mountains, albeit from the comfort of the cosy car. 

Our meeting was to show off the features and benefits of our Emergency Department Software. This was my first call for this product and thankfully it went well and it was lovely to meet with the Stirling team, whom Cambric have worked very closely with over the years. I can confirm they are just as friendly and professional as described to me.

Having been much involved in the fabulous Morse app, it was a nice change to show off some more of our fantastic products, not only discussing our ED software but also Cortix, which is a suite of tools for the digital ward, offering plug and play modules for clinical handovers, task management, ward boards, early warning scores and more.

I am really looking forward to working more closely with Jon and going on a few more excursions with him. Funnily enough we do have a few more trips arranged in the near future - I only hope Jon doesn’t stop me singing in the car… or as Jon refers to it: screeching!

Code-breakers and Cambric (part 3) – the launch

In our previous blog post we described the inspiration for Morse.  Now, where does it go next?

Having identified a specific problem for Health Visitors and other community workers of accessing and carrying around copious medical files and documents when they are working in the field, Cambric spent many days developing the concept and prototype for the Morse app.  Essentially, it’s a very simple program that takes existing data offline, allows the user to make changes and then sync it back to a main computer system when an internet connection became available again.

The Morse project has been split into four initial phases with the fourth being in January 2016.  Each release of the software has introduced further functionality that dramatically improves efficiencies.  

Now we are close to an initial launch of Morse, so we want to start spreading the word! From January, we shall have much more to report, so make sure you keep an eye on this blog and follow us on Linkedin and Twitter.

We believe that Morse will solve many of the problems healthcare professionals face when working in the community. This will save the NHS considerable time and money and allow their healthcare workers more time to spend doing what they do best – caring for their patients.  This is one of the (many) reasons we have employed the inestimable Samantha Fyfe as our New Business Manager.

Watch out for her reports ‘from the road’ as she travels the length and breadth of Britain to spread the word about Morse and help Health Visitors become more efficient and effective in their jobs. Ultimately, the patients that they care for will be the ones who benefit, and that has to be where the real value of Morse lies.

Code-breakers and Cambric (part 2) – what happened next?

In our previous blog post we described the genesis of our Morse – the groundbreaking new app developed by Cambric Systems.

Having identified a specific problem for Health Visitors of accessing and carrying around copious medical files and documents when they are working in the field, Cambric spent many days developing the concept and prototype for the Morse app.  

To illustrate how Morse works in the real world, imagine a Health Visitor is working with five different NHS departments on one child’s case.  The Health visitor needs to see that child’s records across all these different areas and previously they would have had to find paper notes and make telephone calls, often struggling to find all the people with the information they need.  It was (and is) very time consuming, expensive, and there is real potential for error.

Our prototype software has been designed and built to end the frustrations resulting from having to traipse around many different departments and eliminate time consuming paperwork and administration.

We called it Morse because we believe it provides a radically different way of communication, saving time, reducing costs and dramatically improving efficiencies.   In the same way that the recipient of a Morse code message only wants to see the final message, all the ‘fancy’ stuff with Cambric’s Morse app happens behind the scenes; the user simply has access to all the information they need – when they need it.

Morse is currently being piloted in NHS Western Isles, allowing them to ‘road test’ it, comment on the design, see if it worked in all weathers (important given the Hebridean climate!) and generally iron out any faults. 

There has been a lot – and we mean a lot - of work going into the testing and refinement over the last six months.  NHS Western Isles have been absolutely fantastic and invaluable in the progression of the software. Gordon Chlad (Community Psychiatric Nurse, NHS Western Isles) described Morse as “Brilliant” and others have told us it will have to be physically taken off them!

So, what’s next? 

Code-breakers and Cambric (part 1) – the genesis of Morse


Morse code was invented in the middle of the nineteenth century by Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail. Using a single wire telegraph system, Morse revolutionised the means of communication.  It really was a groundbreaking technology which transformed the way the world worked.

Fast forward to the Western Isles in January 2015 and Euan Nicol, the founder of Cambric Systems, was in Scotland’s most westerly islands… 

“On this trip, I met with some Health Visitors who told me about the difficulties they have trying to access all the information they need when out in the community visiting patients.  These difficulties include the time it takes them to travel back and forth to pick up documents from relevant departments, which in turn means they have to carry around large piles of paperwork. Then there is all the form filling, plus the associated administration and, most importantly, remembering to send out various – and very necessary - letters and referrals at the end of their busy day.”

Euan called Garry Sheriff (the other Director of Cambric), explained about the problems he’d witnessed and asked if he could think how Cambric might tackle them.”

Within just a few days, Garry had designed a very simple program that takes existing data offline, allows the user to make changes to it and then sync it back to a main computer system when an internet connection became available again.

It truly was groundbreaking stuff – and the genesis of Cambric’s very own Morse. However, unlike Samuel Morse’s version, ours was to be created as an app.  We called it Morse because we believe it provides a radically different way of communication, saving time, reducing costs and dramatically improving efficiencies … find out what happened next

Welcome to Our New Website

Euan Nicol
Director, Cambric Systems


As this is the first time I’ve written a blog, I trust you’ll forgive me if I begin by musing on how I should begin.  Should I tell you all about our company (we’re Cambric – see the new website for details)?  Do I introduce myself (hello, I’m Euan, I started the company 16 years ago and have been pleasantly surprised ever since by how well we are doing)?  Should I felicitously enquire after the health of my readers (I trust you are well)? And at what level of technological expertise should I pitch things, knowing that most of you will have at least a smattering of knowledge of such things - whilst worrying that others might be put off?

In the event, I’ve kept it simple.

This blog is to introduce you to our new website.  We have spent a lot of time (and money) on making a lot of changes to our old site. We have also spent a lot more time (and a lot more money) developing a superb new product – Morse – of which we’ll be telling you a lot more over the next few months.  In addition, we have recruited Samantha Fyfe to help us take Morse, and our other products, to the wider market.  There is a lot going on at Cambric and there will be much, much more in the future. 

This new blog will, of course, help introduce our products and services and explain some of the thought that underpins them. It will also provide a more light-hearted look at what goes on in the background in our offices here in Dundee, overlooking the river Tay. It’s a beautiful location for any company, and it means that those of us who like to go for a run at lunchtime have an enviable range of athletic options in front of us (more of this in later blogs).  It’s also an easy place to visit, so if you are every passing, do let us know and we’ll put the kettle on. We may even have some scones.

Anyway, that’s it. My first blog done. If you like it, please return here regularly – we’ll keep in touch by Linkedin, Twitter and email – and if you’d like to know more about what we do, why, there is a brand new website here to be explored!  I hope you like that too.

Kind regards

Euan Nicol,

Director, Cambric Systems