Health Service Focus

04.10.17

Digital NHS: from press release to reality

Source: NHE Sep/Oct 17

NHE’s Josh Mines reports from NHS Expo 2017, where the digital transformation of the health service was at the top of the agenda. 

Unsurprisingly, the topic of digital transformation and the future modernisation of NHS records, systems and services was a key talking point at NHS Expo 2017. 

In a year where trusts had to deal with one of the largest cyber security threats in NHS history, make preparations to go paperless and hear countless jokes about the health service being the world’s biggest purchaser of pagers and fax machines, it was clear that swift changes needed to be delivered to bring the sector into the 21st century. 

But for NHS leaders, it seems there’s a level of optimism that changes can and already are being slowly made. 

In his much-anticipated keynote, health secretary Jeremy Hunt set a number of ambitious targets for organisations to meet by the end of 2018 – the year the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday. Services such as NHS 111, medical records and GP appointment bookings, according to Hunt, should all be available to every patient in England via an app. 

“If the NHS is going to be the safest, highest-quality healthcare system in the world, we need to do technology better,” he said. “I do not underestimate the challenge of getting there – but if we do it will be the best possible 70th birthday present from the NHS to its patients.” 

Trusts are making progress 

Similarly, Matthew Swindells, NHS England’s national director for operations and information, argued that all organisations have a better sense of partnership with their IT departments than they did a year ago, and all are moving forwards when it comes to digital reform. 

But there is still large variation in the rate of change across the country, despite pioneers like the global digital exemplars. “We have some brilliant sustainability and transformation partnerships who are at the leading edge of change and some who are struggling to build those partnerships,” Swindells stated. “If we can build on that and the use of tech and IT to accelerate what we’re doing, we can make a big change.” 

But the main goal should always be to develop a system tailored to individual needs. “The focus is on the patient, self-care and on empowering their carers to look after them,” he explained. “We are opening up a system of development so that while we centrally give people access to their data, people can start to create solutions that will work for individuals.

“It’s about how we create a hub that brings data together at a local level, building on the best of what is happening to get the best view of the patient.” 

Data as the key to care outcomes 

Though empowerment of the patient is the main goal, Swindells also spoke about the smart ways that data can be joined up and used by clinicians across the country to improve outcomes. The idea underpinning these hubs is for organisations to release anonymised data that can then be used for research and management. “We can move from management meetings that spend more time talking about what needs to be done and less time arguing about whose spreadsheet is accurate,” the NHS director argued. 

What is vital for NHS leaders to be aware of, according to Swindells, is that technological reform is real and already in its delivery phase – and organisations should be ready and willing to back it up. 

“Tech is becoming real rather than just a press release, and we have a sense of focus and partnership emerging in the NHS that plays from our core value,” he concluded. “We have a focus on the patient that is showing across the country.” 

If this is going to succeed, there needs to be not just a change in systems and technology, but also a new way of working and a forward-thinking, positive mindset to the switch to digital. Whilst the rhetoric around a modern health service is good to hear, these words need to be converted into action if the NHS is to shake off those jokes about dusty pagers and fax machines by the time it celebrates its 70th birthday.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Long-term Covid-19 health impacts research study launched

10/08/2020Long-term Covid-19 health impacts research study launched

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced one of the world’s largest comprehensive research studies into the long-term health impacts of&... more >
Government commits £172m funding package for nursing apprentices

10/08/2020Government commits £172m funding package for nursing apprentices

A new government funding package worth up to £172m has been outlined to help double the number of nursing apprentices in England, as the he... more >
Interim Foundation Pharmacist programme launched by HEE

07/08/2020Interim Foundation Pharmacist programme launched by HEE

Health Education England (HEE) has launched its new education and training programme to support the 2019/20 cohort of pre-registration pharmacist... more >

editor's comment

26/06/2020Adapting and Innovating

Matt Roberts, National Health Executive Editorial Lead. NHE May/June 2020 Edition We’ve been through so much as a health sector and a society in recent months with coronavirus and nothing can take away from the loss and difficulties that we’ve faced but it vital we also don’t disregard the amazing efforts we’v... read more >

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us th... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

Adopting intelligent automation technology in the health service

06/08/2020Adopting intelligent automation technology in the health service

Darren Atkins, Chief Technology Officer (Artificial Intelligence & Automation), East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust featured on Episode 11 of NHE’s Finger on the Pulse podcast.   “What I say to all the organisations I engage with is to forget the technology and come up with: Why do you want to do automation, what are you looking to achieve in the next 12-18 months, and set yourself a progress of work&... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental health and wellbeing. As the best rugby players in the world repr... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

13/06/2019Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

Nurses have been named as the most under-appreciated public sector professionals as new research reveals how shockingly under-vauled our NHS, edu... more >
Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

10/06/2019Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

Peter Skitt, county director and commissioner for Ceredigion Hywel Dda University Health Board, looks ahead to the new integrated care centre bei... more >
Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

10/06/2019Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

Kay Fawcett OBE, clinical advisor and education lead at Helpforce, and Lynn Twinn, talent development consultant, outline the new national traini... more >

interviews

Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual conference, Matt Hancock highlighted what he believes to be the three... more >
NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >
RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

24/10/2018RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hu... more >
Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >