Implementing Digital First Across London


In April, we held a fantastic event led by Caroline Clarke, Regional Director for the NHS in London. 

Caroline was joined by Dominic Dodd, Chair of UCLPartners, Mat Shaw, CEO of Great Ormond Street Hospital and Andrew Wragg, Medical Director of St Bartholomew’s Hospital. 

Caroline shared her aspiration to have London be the most digitally enabled healthcare system in the world built off a digital front door which would work with the NHS app to provide rapid, and efficient, access to care – improving services for residents and patients – and supporting clinicians to work more effectively.

Dominic focused on how to drive wider change and innovation – suggesting an “innovation fund” might be needed to support wider transformation. This would need to be managed in a much more systematic way than has been the case historically – essentially taking an investor mindset of expected returns/improvements in exchange for investment in new models of care.

Andrew highlighted some of the complexities in taking forward a more digitalised model of care – not least the legacy systems which don’t easily interact, the lack of basic infrastructure and the challenges of working in healthcare, with confidentiality concerns and the need to support patients.

And Mat shared the impact already being seen at GOSH from deploying digital tools into patient consultations – enabling information to be captured and saved almost instantaneously to both improve quality of the interaction/subsequent information sharing and productivity. He set out some of the ways in which data/analytics can support and enable continuous improvements in care delivery, research and innovation.

The subsequent discussion was, as ever, wide ranging and focused on six main areas:

1. The need for clear and strong leadership to set a vision and make change happen
2. The recognition that the vision will need to be accompanied by a robust strategy which sets out what needs to happen when, the implications for associated technology, the governance structures to underpin change, the workforce requirements, the impact (and how that will be realised) and so on.
3.  The relationship between the NHS and suppliers – how to have a simpler and more systematic approach to procurement, adoption and spread 
4.  A need to recognise the balance of risk – current services are not 100% high quality/’right’ so why do we set that as the bar for new technologies/approaches?  We need to be bolder and braver.
5.  How to get a new government to commit to funding technology – and to commit to taking out the old in order to realise benefits
6.  The challenge of building/acquiring/buying in digital and data/analytical expertise – there is incredible expertise out there in wider industry – we need to help those deep gurus understand the healthcare space

We will continue with a digital/tech theme next time when we welcome Joe Harrison, CEO of Milton Keynes NHS Foundation Trust and NHSE Director of Digital Channels and Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association.