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Our strategy to digitise, connect and transform

Digitise, connect, transform: Digital transformation in health and social care

Video transcript

At NHSX we support local health and care organisations to digitise services, connect systems, and transform the way care is delivered across the NHS and social care sector.

Intelligent use of technology and data has been fundamental to the COVID-19 pandemic response. And we have already seen incredible examples of how digital and data have transformed the delivery of care. During the peaks, daily analysis of transmission data allowed problems to be understood rapidly, and resources deployed to the right places, while world class genomics allowed us to identify and track new Covid variants. Just as access to data enabled medical research to deliver safe, effective and accessible treatments in record time.

As we look at the NHS’s long term recovery, digital solutions will continue to help us meet the challenges we’re already facing, and the new ones that have arisen as a result.

At NHSX we are transforming care, enabled by digital technology. There are 3 core areas of focus.

Our first focus is on levelling up health and care providers and services with the same core digital infrastructure. We plan to extend digital maturity in NHS trusts, we will digitise social care records and put in place core standards.

Our second focus is on connecting, enabling more integrated care and ensuring that information is in the right place at the right time. We’re making sure basic shared care records are in place across local areas, digitising maternity records, and developing digital child health records. And we are publishing a target architecture to explain how national and local data and services should fit together.

Transformation then follows, using digital technology to reimagine rather than simply enhance services. This will include developing national digital services to give people more control of their care and enabling more long term condition monitoring at home. We’ll support ICS’s with products and services for population health management to improve health and reduce health inequalities. We are working with partners to support health and care systems transformation. We are doing this this by consolidating tech funding, strengthening regulation and building digital skills for staff.

We have published a comprehensive data strategy, to enable a truly data driven health and care system, have published guidance on ‘what good looks like’ for digital transformation across health and care, and a strategy for sustainable tech funding.

While NHSX provides the support, guidance, standards and funding, it's local health and care staff and leaders who will make digital transformation a reality. If we unite around this vision and plan, then together, we can make things better for staff, and provide better care and improved outcomes for everyone.

So, get involved and read about digital transformation for health and care.

During the pandemic we have seen incredible examples of the way digital has transformed the delivery of care.

The need now is for the health and care sector to adopt digital tools, urgently and consistently, to address both our long term health improvement goals and the immediate tasks of recovering from the pandemic.

Our strategy is to digitise services, connect them to support integration and, through these foundations, enable service transformation.

We have set the ambition for the majority of health and social care services to have digital foundations in place, including electronic records, by March 2025. At present only 20% of NHS organisations are digitally mature, although 86% have a form of electronic patient record in place. Only 45% of social care providers have any form of digital care records. When paper processes and outdated systems are replaced by modern electronic health or social care records, staff and people will be able to safely access information when they need it and at a time and place that is convenient to them.

A connected health and care system means that information can flow safely and seamlessly between IT systems, care providers and settings. The insights generated from it can help to tailor services to the needs of populations, enable more targeted care and reduce unnecessary interventions.

The real value of digital technology comes not from digitising existing practices, but from using it to reengineer them completely. In banking or retail for example, digital has changed the entire business model. Health and social care, by contrast, have changed how they provide services remarkably little. We must design inclusive services to benefit those whose health outcomes and outlook are poorest.

A plan for digital health and social care

The Plan for Digital Health and Social Care sets out a vision for a digitally enabled health and social care system and how we can achieve it, it collates existing digital strategies, plans and guidance into one single action plan. It is aimed at health and social care leaders across the system, and industry partners to help them plan for the future.

In the document we make clear our priorities for digital transformation and begin to set out the support that will be available to local systems to enable the changes that are needed.

What Good Looks Like

The What Good Looks Like guidance sets out a common vision for good digital practice to empower frontline leaders to accelerate digital transformation in their organisations. Going forward, the programme will provide a comprehensive and practical set of tools, guidelines and best practices for NHS leaders to achieve meaningful digital transformation. The What Good Looks Like guidance has seven success measures that frontline NHS systems and organisations across England should aim to reach, and it was included in the 2021 to 2022 Operational Planning and Contracting Guidance, and the ICS Design Framework.

Who Pays for What

Who Pays for What (WPfW) identifies the barriers faced by the system when it comes to investment in digital technology, and proposes actions to overcome these barriers in 2021 to 2022 and beyond. This year, we will consolidate existing national funding for transformational tech projects into a single fund - the Unified Tech Fund - and take steps to support ICSs to make better investments. Over time, we propose to move away from central funding of frontline tech, giving ICSs more control over the resources with which to deliver their tech plans. We are keen for your feedback on these proposals.

Unified Tech Fund

The Unified Tech Fund (UTF), part of the WPfW strategy, seeks to simplify and consolidate the process for accessing technology funding. The UTF brings together multiple existing technology funds. It will enable staff in NHS organisations and ICSs to understand a number of different elements of funding available for digital and to apply for them through a single mechanism. It also means there’s transparency and fairness with the visibility of who has applied for what.

Together these products will help local leaders to accelerate digital transformation in their organisations and support the NHS Long Term commitment to digitise the entire NHS for the benefit of patients and staff.