Public Services

The NHS gets connected

Published 05 May 2017

A key message from this year's UK e-Health Week event was the need for a focus on pushing forward with planning for whole health care economies rather than fragmented, separate organisations

By Neha Ralhan


This week we took advantage of the Purdah-enforced lull on Whitehall by attending UK e-Health Week 2017, which focused on twin themes; an e-centric, digital NHS and the strong, accountable leadership and culture needed to deliver it. The overarching message was one of 'forging ahead', focusing on whole health care economies as opposed to fragmented, separate organisations. This is in line with the holistic, population-centric nature of the STPs and suggests that vendors with strong footprints who are best able to adapt to facilitate regional involvement will benefit the most.

Key NHS Digital figures stressed the importance of process re-design in order to digitalise clinical workflow via engaging with technology vendors as partners. Strategic commissioning is increasingly being seen as a way to meet goals whether they are linked to Paperless 2020 or outlined within STPs. It will also be needed due to the dire financial state within many regions.

Dr Keith McNeil, CCI0 Health and Social Care, summed up the NHS's new desired 'world order' saying "traditional infrastructure will shrink as platform models become more prominent"; that's welcome news for some vendors.

The role of a more digital literate workforce was also prominent. The outcome of the Alt Report, and details around the Digital Academy launch later in the year, signify a more strategic approach to workforce building and an understanding that technology is only half of the solution. That's encouraging for vendors who have seen projects stall due to a lack of NHS in-house expertise.

There are still significant gains to be made through the NHS digital agenda. The 10 programmes of work NHS Digital is focusing on, and the push towards training and supporting digital leaders, will see net benefits but only if momentum can be maintained. Vendors who can play the long game and place partnerships at the centre of their solutions and messaging will see the most gains.

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