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NHS Digital Transformation Blog

A space to share insights and experiences for everybody working to improve the NHS and social care system’s use of data and digital technology. Published by NHS Digital, NHS England and NHSX.

The importance of good cyber security during a pandemic

Toby Griffiths, Head of Innovation and Delivery for NHS Digital's Data Security Centre, discusses how we have tackled cyber security issues and how we are addressing 'security debt' brought about by the pandemic.

Making health tech safe for patients

On World Patient Safety Day, Dr Mona Johnson, Deputy Clinical Director of Patient Safety at NHS Digital and a practicing GP, explains how NHS Digital systems and services keep people safe.

What's behind a simple letter?

David Ibbotson, Operations Director for the Vaccine Programme at NHS South, Central and West (SCW), a key partner in the NHS-wide vaccination programme, shares what he has learnt about what is required to deliver a ‘simple’ letter inviting someone for a jab.

Designing out the need for training in a staff-facing app

Jason Hodge, Lead Service Designer for the national booking service, looks at how they had to quickly design an app that COVID-19 vaccination site staff could easily and effectively use to check in the hundreds of people arriving daily to get their jab.

How a virtual work placement opened my eyes

Emma Clark, who is studying to become a junior doctor, describes what she learned during her virtual work placement at NHS Digital and how it has given her a completely new perspective on the NHS.

The rise of the clinical informatician

Dr Raj Kumar, our Chief Clinician for Informatics, explains his role at NHS Digital and how it’s made him a better doctor, how clinical informatics has developed in the NHS, and gives advice to those looking to enter the field.

From the frontline: Seeing the patient in the data

Victoria Wray is the Advanced Analytics Clinical Lead at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. She discusses how the organisation developed a data visualisation tool that is helping clinicians to provide more effective treatments for patients suffering from mental health issues.

Making digital mental health services better: a nurse's view

People are increasingly turning to digital services to get help for urgent mental health problems. Jane Smith, learning disability nurse and clinical lead for NHS 111 online, describes how the team have improved the service and how her role as a nurse helped make it happen.

Behind the scenes at COVID-19 vaccination centres

The national booking service is helping millions of people schedule their life-saving COVID-19 vaccinations. James Higgott, Lead Product Manager, gives an insider’s view on how we created the staff-facing products that make up this service and solved some teething problems along the way.

From the frontline: What do the people want?

Alexis Farrow, Head of Strategy and Transformation at Connected Nottinghamshire, explains how her team set out to understand what digital solution would best support the wide spectrum of health and care needs for local people. 

Overcoming digital barriers in the nursing profession

Sue Clarke, Clinical Lead at NHS Digital, and registered nurse, says good communication is still at the heart of bringing about the digital transformation of the nursing profession. 

How is additional information in Summary Care Records being used?

As the coronavirus hit us in March, the Government made a significant change to the sharing of patient information for those working on the frontline in the NHS. Tamara Farrar, a user researcher at NHS Digital, looked at what that extra information meant for professionals in a wide range of different health and care settings.

How the NHS App is upping its game

Susie Day, Programme Head for the NHS App, explains how new features help support patients and clinicians to meet an increasing need for remote access to services during the pandemic and how they will improve healthcare after the current crisis.

Demystifying the integration process for the NHS App

James Reith, Content Designer for the NHS App, explains how the NHS App integration team have improved their integration process to make it easier for partner services to innovate.

NHS login: Coping with the large-scale adoption of digital health services

Richard McStay, Lead Delivery Manager, explains how the NHS login team is making it easier for more people to register. 

Cyber with Rosie

Rosie Underwood, Cyber Security Consultant in NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre, talks about her role in strengthening the security of organisations across the NHS in support of Cyber Security Awareness month.

From the frontline: Good systems save lives

On #StartAHeart day, Freddie Ivin, a call handler for the NHS 111 service in Norfolk, explains the vital training role NHS Digital plays in helping call handlers deal with CPR calls, and Gina Gill, at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, describes the impact of a call she received about a man who had stopped breathing.

The importance of data in fighting disease during the pandemic

Clinical data is acutely private and confidential, and patients rightly demand that it is handled with great care. Sarah Wilkinson, Chief Executive of NHS Digital, explains more.

How to cut your risks of a human-operated ransomware attack

Many ransomware attacks are not fully automated but involve individuals gaining access,  moving around your system and then deploying malware. Simon Dyson, NHS Digital’s Cyber Security Operations Centre lead, discusses how organisations can make it hard for them.

Improving the information flow between pharmacies and GPs

Tahmina Rokib, Clinical Lead for Digital Medicines at NHS Digital, talks about how electronic notifications giving details of urgent medication issued by community pharmacies, keep GPs fully informed and patients’ records up-to-date.

Effective cyber security has never mattered so much

John Noble, the non-executive director who leads on information and cyber security for the NHS Digital Board, looks at the cyber threat facing the NHS as it deals with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Building great digital services during a crisis

Lucy Ha, Product and Delivery Management Graduate, explains how the NHS digital service manual is helping organisations quickly build accessible, consistent digital products and services needed to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

How we’re supporting COVID-19 convalescent plasma trials

NHS Blood and Transplant is investigating the effectiveness of treating coronavirus patients with plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19. Heather Pinches, Head of the Clinical Trials Service at NHS Digital, explains how we’re helping with this effort.

Closing the healthcare gap for people with learning disabilities

Providing easy read materials, longer appointments or other adjustments for people with learning disabilities or long-term conditions can make a big difference. 

Teams helping bridge the gap

Social distancing has radically changed the way we can work together during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Nikki Jeffery, Urology Fellow at University College London Hospitals, describes how using collaboration software has helped link people up.

Launching online consultations in the NHS App during COVID-19

Managing our health from home is more important than ever during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, so we have introduced new features in the NHS App to help. Tracy Higgs, Product Lead for online consultations in the NHS App, explains how her team has made asking a GP for advice through the app available for almost 20 million people.

Why are we centralising GP data to support research during the pandemic?

We are working with the GP profession to establish a central collection of GP data for vital planning and research to support the coronavirus (COVID-19) response. Dr Peter Short, Clinical Lead GP Data at NHS Digital, explains the new approach.

Ensuring COVID-19 website content is current

Product Manager Rachel Gibson talks about how her team had to move quickly to ensure people who were manually copying coronavirus (COVID-19) content from the NHS website were getting the most up-to-date information in the swiftly evolving circumstances of the pandemic.

Birth in a time of solitude

Specialist midwife for IT, Lorri Allport, looks at how technology has helped support women through pregnancy, birth and post-natal care in rural Lincolnshire during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How should service design react to COVID-19?

Service designers have had to react quickly to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, but despite the pressure it's a time to still get the basics right according to Dean Vipond, Lead Designer on the NHS website.

How we are assessing COVID-19 apps

The NHS and innovators are working to develop new mobile products and digital technologies that can help in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Creating the COVID-19 text service for vulnerable people

A small group from NHSX, NHS Digital, NHS Business Services Authority and the Behavioural Insights Team has developed a text service for those most threatened by COVID-19. 

Data saves lives

Tom Foley, Senior Clinical Lead for Data at NHS Digital, writes about the power of data in health and social care.

Modularised content: Google knowledge panels

NHS Digital Product manager James Lumgair talks about how the NHS website is getting trusted, accurate health information in front of more users than ever before through 'knowledge panels' on Google search result pages.

How I learned to code

In the run-up to International Women’s Day, cyber security graduate Lianne Potter describes how she retrained to become a coder after redundancy and is now protecting the NHS from cyber threats.

Modularised content: What's next?

NHS Digital Product Manager James Lumgair gives an update on the project to make specific sections of content on the NHS website available to syndicators, so more people can get accurate, NHS-assured information wherever and however they need it.

Regulating AI in health and care

Matthew Gould, CEO of NHSX, explains why he convened a round-table of regulators to talk AI, and what the plan is. 

My cyber security journey

NHS Digital's Peter Robinson takes us through his journey from apprentice to professional within the Cyber Security team.

From the front line: Pharmacy exemption checking

The Real Time Exemption Checking service automatically tells pharmacy systems when someone is exempt from paying for their prescriptions. Pharmacist Paul Rolfe looks at how it is improving dispensing for patients and pharmacy staff. 

Ten years fighting for a single language

SNOMED CT is the clinical vocabulary for electronic patient health records across the NHS. Denise Downs, Principal Terminology Specialist, talks about the ‘major stock take’ that the implementation of SNOMED CT across general practice involved and how she gained the support of clinicians.

Creating an integration toolkit for NHS login

Rebecca Jarratt, lead delivery manager for NHS login partner onboarding, explains how the NHS login team worked with organisations to develop a self-service toolkit that supports them to adopt NHS login – while ensuring the team maintains control over the integration process.

Making digital services more inclusive

The NHS digital service manual helps teams make their services more respectful and inclusive. But it’s not always easy to get it right as Sara Wilcox, the content designer on the team, explains.

Does cyber security have to be painful?

Dan Jeffery, Head of Innovation, Delivery and Business Operations at NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre, explains how automation within NHSmail is delivering improved cyber security.

How TV gets cyber wrong

Hackers and cyber attacks feature in many films and television programmes, but are these portrayals accurate? Hecham Mrabet, senior security specialist at NHS Digital, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how a cyber security centre runs in real life.

How to write good questions

The NHS digital service manual team has published some new forms guidance that will help digital health teams design better forms and transactional services. Content designer Sara Wilcox explains how and why it was done.

Is cyber a man's world?

Cyber security still has an out-dated image of being a masculine profession. Charlotte Roe, Cyber Security Apprentice at NHS Digital, talks about her job and why women are needed in the world of cyber.

What do innovators think?

When NHSX launched in July, it committed to serving users’ needs and creating an environment that nurtures innovation. Lisa Hollins, Director of Innovation Delivery at NHSX, talks about what innovators are telling her should be the system’s top priorities.

Why is there an 8am rush on the NHS App?

Josh Dresner, User Researcher, has been digging deep into users' experience of the NHS App. He has found some GP practices using the app to transform access to services, while others are still stuck with old habits.

View from the frontline: Dealing with mental health as a paramedic

The next phase of the National Record Locator launches soon, allowing ambulance trusts to access mental health information at the point of care. Business analyst and former paramedic Philip Radford talks about what this means for people on the frontline.

How we're improving cyber security

As we kick off Cyber Security Awareness Month, NHS Digital’s Interim Chief Information Security Officer Dan Pearce explains how NHS cyber security has been strengthened over the past two years.

Welcoming new health data research hubs

Tara Donnelly and Katie Farrington from NHSX explain how research partnerships can save and improve lives as long as they are underpinned by robust and ethical frameworks that will maintain public trust in rapidly developing technologies.

The NHS digital service manual needs you

The NHS digital service manual is for everyone making digital products and services in the NHS. Ben Cullimore, a senior interaction designer at NHS.UK, explains how we’re developing a collaborative approach to building the service manual and how the team particularly wants designers (interaction and content designers and user researchers) to get involved. 

Citizen Identity – the evolution of username password security

How do we give the public secure access to their healthcare data and NHS services? Lead Delivery Manager Richard McStay talks about NHS login and the NHS Digital Citizen Identity team’s work to ensure people can prove their identity when signing up for online services.

Widening digital inclusion

How can we all learn to fail well? This is the question asked by Nicola Gill, Digital Programme Lead at NHS Digital, who has been working in partnership with Good Things Foundation charity to support the most excluded in society with accessing digital health services and tools.

Modularised content: The future of the NHS website

Content modularisation of the NHS website will help our content reach more  people via search engines, voice-activated devices, chatbots and wearable devices. NHS Digital Product Manager James Lumgair explains more.

Making digital services accessible

How do you make sure that NHS digital services are accessible to all? Ian Roddis, Lead Product Manager for the NHS digital service manual, talks about the new guidelines his team has developed to help people working in digital delivery teams meet accessibility standards in time for September 2020’s deadline.

How we are talking to Alexa

The NHS website team has worked with Amazon’s Alexa team to offer health information by voice search. Eva Lake, Head of Engagement for the website, explains how the collaboration is working. 

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Published by NHS Digital, NHS England and NHSX.  Read our earlier blog posts.