As they often travel widely to design, install and upgrade their software systems, the temporary accommodation they use is very important to them. InterSystems staff who service most of Scotland’s NHS hospitals have a prescription for overnight success - The Knight Residence, Edinburgh.
InterSystems Corporation is a US$385m privately held software company with offices in 23 countries with corporate headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Its UK head office is in Eton, near Windsor.
It has grown consistently over three decades and its database, integration and analytics technologies are used widely in government, financial services, telecommunications and other industries. However, its main business is delivering “connected healthcare”, with its software powering applications used by over 3 million people in leading healthcare institutions worldwide.
In Scotland InterSystems has a national contract delivering its own solution, InterSystems TrakCare™, for patient administration and clinical systems in hospitals run by the Health Boards of NHS Ayrshire and Arran; NHS Borders; NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; NHS Grampian; NHS Lanarkshire; and NHS Lothian. Together these Boards are responsible for the care of more than 70% of the people in Scotland.
“It’s a very specialised service - software that clinically and administratively helps run the hospital,” InterSystems Healthcare Architect Kate Prangley explained. “The software follows the patients throughout their care journey to make sure it’s connected and centred on what they need at any given point.”
This includes the capability to manage waiting lists, appointments, operation timetables and ordering radiology and laboratory tests - all from one unified, Web-based computer system in each Board. “We have to get the systems working just right as the doctors, nurses, and administrators rely on our systems to make the best decisions 24/7,” Kate Prangley added.
The Scottish hospitals are serviced by a core staff of around 30 nominally based in offices near the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, supplemented by experts who fly in from other parts of the UK and overseas. They include project managers, applications specialists and other technical experts on short-term assignments. Often they can be in Scotland for four or five days a week for well over a year so they need short-term accommodation that is reliable, high quality and good value for money.
Health technology specialists’ rest remedy
InterSystems has been using the five star Knight Residence - Edinburgh’s leading apart-hotel - for some five years, and their staff rate it their first choice to stay at when working in Scotland.
On average four staff may be staying three nights a week at the 28 apartment complex which for the past four years has been rated in the top 500 of more than 130,000 establishments judged by guests reviewing for Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company.
Kate Prangley, who is based in Birmingham and worked in Saudi Arabia and the British Army before joining InterSystems, is one of the longest users of The Knight Residence.
‘Other places are night and day by comparison’
“We checked out the local accommodation market by staying in various hotels and apartments. A lot of other places are just night and day by comparison,” she commented. “There’s no recognition or familiarity, just cold administration. They don’t remember you or have time for pleasantries and conversation.”
“By contrast, the friendliness at ‘The Knights’ is exceptional. We appreciate their flexibility because sometimes we can be working in the middle of the night and need easy access. Above all, it is their service that sets them apart as they always bend over backwards to do things for you. If you ring up with a problem they will come straight away and sort it out. There’s nothing you wouldn’t ask them, no matter how strange the request!”
Kate continued: “The price is very good compared with what you pay just for a single hotel room but the comfort and service are probably more important because you are asking people to be away from home, sometimes three or four nights a week.”
“I feel cared for. You don’t feel you’re on your own”
Senior Applications Specialist Ruth Thomas, who lives in Sheffield, has been using The Knight Residence for several years. “It’s really good, clean, and comfortable,” she said. “You get a big flat - and they look after you. When I arrive they’re expecting me and they make sure I feel cared for, so I don’t feel I’m on my own.“
Since it is self-catering, The Knight Residence does not have its own restaurant but InterSystems staff do not find this a disadvantage. Packs are provided for breakfast and daily needs, and the apartments are located in the heart of Edinburgh with many restaurants within strolling distance.
Homelier than an hotel
When it comes to choosing accommodation Kate believes there is a gender split among staff, with the women generally preferring serviced apartments and the men staying in hotels, “I guess because the men want to be looked after, and just ring for service.” “We [women] like having our own space. In a serviced apartment, in addition to your bedroom, you have a living room and kitchen where you can prepare meals.”
Staff can invite colleagues or friends round for a drink or meal, use the apartment for business meetings (The Knight Residence has free wi-fi), and even bring their families for short breaks.
Senior Applications Specialist Mike Taylor, who has been commuting to Scotland from Birmingham for several years, is one man who is a fan of serviced apartments - and not just because staff always make sure he gets white bread instead of the wholemeal variety he dislikes.
“It’s a home away from home,” says Mike. “It’s better to have a living room as well as a bedroom. I really can relax. I enjoy having more freedom and because I’ve been coming up here so many times I know the people. I prefer to stay in an apartment than a hotel, as in a hotel you’ve got one room and your bed to lay on, and you think ‘What am I doing here?’”
Mike also appreciates the Sky Sports channels and Bluetooth receivers on the apartments’ stereo systems that enable guests to play their own music through Apple iPads or other devices during their leisure time.
And that’s more music to the ears of The Knight Residence’s management!