Digital transformation has been significantly growing in recent years due to the ever-increasing capabilities of new technologies and the uses they provide to various industries. Digital transformation refers to the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business. This integration of digital technologies results in a fundamental change of business functions – meaning businesses must be agile enough to adopt the change it creates.
In early 2019, the NHS published their ‘Long Term Plan’ which sets out how they plan to digitally transform and begin to more effectively use technology within healthcare. The stated mission strategy of the NHS with regards to digital transformation is:
“….to empower the health and care system to be intelligent in the way it uses data and information to drive improvements in health and care, by delivering world class data and analytics services through the highest level of skills, expertise, tools, techniques and technology.”
The NHS are concentrating on key themes for their transformation and these have been summarised below.
To use a “cloud-first” approach wherever practicable; both financially and operationally.
Spine is a vital service that connects more than 27,000 different end-point connections across the NHS around the clock. Spine hosts a number of applications which provide essential digital services to GP, pharmacists, community and hospital staff. These include prescription history of patients and electronic patient referrals.
Use of NHSmail allows clinicians and healthcare staff to access the information and technologies they need to do their job from any location at any time by providing improved, secure electronic communication between patients, clinicians and healthcare staff.
Health and Social Care Network (HSCN)
The HSCN provides a data network capable of meeting the evolving needs of health and social care professionals up and down the country. It will provide the standards, infrastructure and services upon which transformed digital health and care services can be built.
NHS WiFi is intended to enable people who are receiving care to be better connected by providing free wireless access across the NHS, and progressively supporting mobile health and care professionals to have access to services, tools and technologies to deliver better care.
In order to improve interoperability between online health and care systems and support more ubiquitous access to patient records, health data and diagnostic tools, health and care IT systems, services and applications should be made available over the internet.
Remote Data Access
Establishing remote access services under the highest standards of governance to NHS Digital services.
Design and implement a single unified security operating model for NHS Digital based on ISO27001 robust industry standards and establish a National Security Operations Centre with real-time intelligence on the threats facing health and care organisations.
Consolidation of Data Collection Tools
The NHS are currently operating in multiple environments that duplicate effort and functions and have multiple, standalone systems that have been set up to support to individual services. Consolidation will be achieved by the development of a Data Services Platform (DSP). The DSP will be the single place where NHS access, process and manage data. Incremental migration to this platform will include incorporation of existing data environments where applicable.
Ongoing review of analytical tools to ensure consolidation and utilisation of best practices tools.
Better data, better access
Access to better and more available data and information will help to improve the way in which health and care services are consumed and delivered.
Modernise use of Technology
Make better use of technology and information to improve processes and increase automation to support key functions.
Empower the Person
Improved digital access to health and care information and transactions is essential to support people in making health and care choices.
Urgent and emergency care
Helping to deliver the national urgent and emergency care strategy by providing the infrastructure, systems, technology and processes that enable the development of digital urgent care services.
Transforming general practice
Working to free GPs from time-consuming admin and offer patients better self-care through online services, rather than having to visit to their GP.
Working to enable seamless care delivery across different health and care settings.
Making sure patients and the NHS get the best value from medicines and pharmacy by making prescribing and dispensing safer and more efficient, supporting the integration of pharmacy into the wider NHS and making the most of medicines data.
Improving the management of referrals and the booking of appointments, to give patients a better choice for treatment.
Paper free at point of care
NHS Digital is working to equip the health and care system with world-class technology and ensure the workforce has the skills to get the most out of it.
Public trust and security
Building public trust and confidence in how health and care services look after confidential information and use it to benefit health and care.
Next steps for Digital Transformation in the NHS
Parts of the NHS are already starting to deliver projects which are as a result of the Long Term Plan and this now needs to be continued throughout the establishment, as all NHS IT infrastructure will need to be tackled for digital transformation to be achieved.
4C Strategies are a team of professional and independent consultants who can help prepare the NHS for digital transformation. With over 20 years’ experience working with the healthcare sector, 4C offers unified solutions to the healthcare industry, providing end-to-end support on ICT projects, by delivering a portfolio of consultancy services to meet client requirements. The team can assist with the entire lifecycle, including strategy, business case, procurement and transformation. Further information on how 4C Strategies can help and the experience they have can be found here.
Please contact 4C Strategies on 01858 438938, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Useful information links
NHS Digital https://digital.nhs.uk/
NHS Digital Capability Review Report https://digital.nhs.uk/about-nhs-digital/our-work/transforming-health-and-care-through-technology/fit-for-2020-report-from-the-nhs-digital-capability-review/what-this-means-for-the-transformation-of-nhs-digital-and-our-stakeholders
NHS Digital Data & Information Strategy https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/nhs-digital-data-and-information-strategy