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NHS Providers publish guide to digital transformation

NHS Providers have released their latest guidelines, aiming to improve how trusts around the country deliver digital services and avoid common mistakes.

The advice is supported by Health Education England, NHS England and NHS Improvement via their Digital Readiness Education Programme.

The plan, titled Digital Delivery Principles, outlines eight key principles that NHS Providers say are designed to help trusts realise the opportunities of digital transformation and ultimately help guide digital delivery.

Those eight points, with accompanying questions for boards, included:

  • Deliver things that patients and staff need – Do you talk about your users' needs or the business' requirements?
  • Set clear and realistic goals – What's the primary aim of your digital investments?
  • Test, measure and learn how it’s working – Are delivery teams focused on delivering the plan, or delivering benefits?
  • Think long term, deliver in the short term – Do your funding, governance and procurement structures encourage incremental delivery and ongoing improvements?
  • Invest in a dedicated, cross-functional in-house digital team – Are clinicians supporting digital initiatives as part of their job, or as a favour?
  • Get the best out of technology suppliers – What would happen if your relationship with an important technology supplier went wrong?
  • Build trust, not barriers – How joined up are your digital transformation, system integration, quality improvement and practice development initiatives?
  • Don’t stick to the wrong plan – Are teams able to be honest about the risks involved in digital transformation?

The full plan acts as a comprehensive guide, which hopes to build board understanding of the potential and implications of the digital agenda and increase the confidence and capability of boards to harness the opportunities it provides.

Caroline Clarke, Group Chief Executive, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust said: “All chief executives should have digital on their agenda. It should just be what we do now, it's your business, not just your chief clinical information officer's or your chief digital officer's.”

She added: “Life has changed – now most transformation investments are underpinned by digital. Chief executives and their boards can set a tone for an organisation, that technology is taken seriously and talked about at all levels of the organisation. Digital can't just be discussed when a business case is submitted to the board. As leaders, we must understand how digital is delivered.”

Clarke suggests five key points, which include being proactive, taking the long view on digital transformation and capitalising on opportunities to collaborate with others.

More information on the guidelines can be found here.

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