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Digital transformation blog

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

Welcoming new health data research hubs

Dathelps develop more effective treatments

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.

Discover all about our work with health data research hubs.

Help shape how the NHS makes digital services

Picture of computer screen with the words 'We need you' on the display

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 why the team particularly wants interaction designers, content designers and user researchers to get involved. 

Read about how to contribute

Reaching the people other digital services don't reach

Two people looking at an ipad

How do we ensure that what NHS Digital has to offer can be accessed by the most excluded in society? Digital Programme Lead Nicola Gill explains the journey towards digital inclusion.

Read more about widening digital inclusion

Citizen identity – the evolution of username password security

Person using fingerprint identity verification on a smartphoneHow 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.

Read more about proving your identity with NHS login

Modularised content: The future of the NHS website

A wearable device with NHS website content

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 all about it.

Making digital services accessible

Picture of Ian Roddis presenting a Digital Service Manual Show and Tell session

How do you make sure that the 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.

Read more about accessibility guidance

How we are talking to Alexa

An Alexa device is asked a question about the flu

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. 

Using logic models to assess digital health products

A group of staff take part in a logic model workshop

How do you evaluate the success of a digital health product? Ian Roddis and Vicki Litherland explain how digital delivery teams from NHS Digital and Public Health England worked together to assess whether the NHS website is fit for purpose.

Read about the role of logic models

Why we are withdrawing the NHS Common User Interface

Image of Matt Edgar, Head of Design at NHS Digital, sat at a table

In the past 10 years, the world of digital health has changed massively. Matt Edgar, Head of Design at NHS Digital talks about the decision to deprecate and then withdraw the NHS Common User Interface and explains how the way we design and build digital services has moved with the times.

Read more about the decision to retire these design standards

Am I any good? Banishing self-doubt with the Digital Academy

Group picture from the NHS digital academy cohort one, wearing matching t shirtsJames Freed, Chief Information Officer at Health Education England,  was part of cohort one of the NHS Digital Academy, a virtual organisation set up to develop a new generation of excellent digital leaders. Here, he reflects on his experience - and how it helped him tackle imposter syndrome.

Read more about the Digital Academy

Taking the leap: getting staff and patients to use the NHS App

Person using the NHS App on the mobile phone

During pilot testing for the NHS App a reception team member from a Liverpool GP practice said: “We don’t normally get involved with digital stuff, but we thought we’d give it a go because it’s from the NHS.”

Read more about how we are rolling out the NHS App

Creating new standards of design with the NHS website

Dean Vipond, Lead Designer of the NHS Digital WebsiteThe NHS website is huge. It has been running for around 12 years now and has tens of thousands of pages.  As with any website of that size and age, different page styles and ways of presenting information arise.

Read more about our work on design standards

Tips for effective accessibility research

Ashley Wheat

How do you make sure your research project is truly accessible? Ashley Wheat, User Researcher on the NHS website, explains how the team worked with people with a range of access needs to improve their product.

Read more about our tips for accessibility reasearch

GP systems framework is key to sharing data

Connecting systems

Procurement doesn’t usually ignite embers in the eyes of GPs and practice staff, but the new GP IT Futures Framework is genuinely lighting a fire in my belly as a practising GP and Clinical Director for Primary Care Technology at NHS Digital, says Dr Stephen Miller.

Read more about the GP systems framework

The future's bright for general practice

A screen showing the Digital Buying Catalogue

Justine Brightwell, Programme Head for GP IT Futures, looks at the ambitious programme to revolutionise how IT systems procurement works for general practice.

Discover more about the Digital Buying Catalogue and the programme

Apps that change lives

A group of male and female patients look at and use laptops and mobile devices

The NHS Apps Library, which went fully live in February, recently recorded its millionth visit. Lead User Researcher Janet Morgan describes how the team works with users to assure tools that are useful.

Read more about the NHS Apps Library

Creating connections – implementing NHS WiFi across England

Member of NHS staff assisting a person with their mobile phone

Prior to the installation of NHS WiFi in July 2018, many practice staff had to pay for mobile WiFi. Now, thanks to WiFi connectivity, having to use personal mobile data is a thing of the past. For example, at the Crystal Peaks Medical Centre in Sheffield not only can GP registrars access learning materials whilst at the centre, tutorials can be facilitated without having to use a desktop PC in a consultation room.

Read more about our work on NHS WiFi

Passwordless login: the search for speed with security

Stylised visual of a biometric fingerprint

The NHS App aims to allow the public to fulfil their healthcare needs at the touch of a button. However, a security-conscious, multi-factor authentication login process proved a major ‘speed bump’ for users. Sean Devlin, a Tech Lead on the NHS App discusses how his team and their counterparts in NHS login worked together to allow people to login without passwords.  

Read more about logging in without a password

The wonder of webinars in helping patients

Specialist Gastroenterology Community Dietetic team recording their latest webinar

A team of specialist gastroenterology community dieticians in Somerset used webinars to increase patient understanding of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Allied Health Professions Digital Practice award winner Marianne Williams explains why this technology is beneficial to both healthcare professionals and patients.

Read more about our work in webinars

 

Tell us where data-driven technology is heading

Graphic for the artificial intelligence survey

Help shape the future of harnessing data-driven technologies in UK health and social care in a new survey. Find out more from Dr Indra Joshi, Digital Health & AI Clinical Lead with NHSX and Jess Morley, AI Lead with NHSX.

Read more about and complete the survey

Online forms open access to mental health care

Looking at the online mental health referral form on a tablet computer

The number of people seeking online help with mental health issues including anxiety, and depression is rising. Content designer Martine Gallie looks at how NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) teams can improve their online self-referral processes.

Read more about this online forms project

What’s next for data in the NHS?

An abstract image representing medical data digitally

Geraint Lewis, Chief Data Officer at NHS England, brings to life some of the ways in which data is already transforming health and care services and outlines his top priorities for the next year.

Read more about data innovation in the NHS

The NHS App: building a digitally accessible front door to the NHS

A blind man with a mobile device and a female mobile user

If the NHS App is going to become known, as the NHS Long Term Plan anticipates, as a ‘nationally available online way for people to access the NHS’, it is critical that it is accessible to all. David Hodnett, Programme Delivery Lead for the NHS App, explains why dropping a hyphen can be the difference between comprehension and confusion for some users.

Read more about making the NHS App more accessible

The NHS App: thinking big, starting small, scaling fast

Woman using NHS App.

The NHS App is already allowing people who have never used a GP online service to interact with their practices digitally. Tara Donnelly, Chief Digital Officer at NHS England, describes the agile approach to the app’s roll out.

Read more about the NHS App

Learning from each other to improve care - Sharing digital blueprints across the NHS 

Picture with four clinical staff walking down the aisle of ward 30, using Wirral Millennium to discuss a patient treatment, Wirral University Teaching HospitalHow can the sharing of Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) blueprints help improve outcomes for patients and staff?  Here Paul Charnley, CIO co-chair of the Blueprinting Steering Group for the Global Digital Exemplars programme, gives his thoughts on the launch of the first round of 60 blueprints and how he’s learning from them too.

Read more of Paul's thoughts

The patients behind the clicks: research for the NHS App

Researchers speak to patients about the NHS App during its development

The NHS App is an important element of a digital first healthcare system as outlined in the new NHS Long Term Plan. Here, Josh Dresner, user researcher on the NHS App project, describes how patients and staff have informed the development of the app.

Read more to find out about the research

So, what is a Local Health and Care Record anyway?

Indi Singh, national lead on the LHCRs and Head of Architecture and Cyber Security at NHSX

As we establish NHSX, locally led delivery, using open standards and underpinned by trust in how information is accessed safely and securely, will be key to the success of the Local Health and Care Records (LHCRs), according to Indi Singh, national lead on the LHCRs and Head of Architecture and Cyber Security at NHSX.

Read more about LHCRs

Driving a patient-centric view to improve technology in healthcare

Sam Shah

Dr Sam Shah, Director of Digital Development at NHS England, considers the impact of new digital tools and services on patients and how this should shape the future of technology.

Read more about how we are developing a patient centric view

Icons: avoid temptation and start with user needs

NHS icons for action link and expander controls

Icons represent ideas in a simple, visual way. But we must use them carefully, and only where they help people. Users’ needs must come first, and we shouldn’t be afraid to challenge how people use them.

Read more about how icons represent a simple, visual way of signposting on the website

Building accessible and mobile-first services for the NHS

Screenshot of the NHS.UK prototype kitAfter we relaunched the NHS website last August, we needed a way of sharing what we learnt with other digital teams to help them build accessible, mobile-first products and services too. David Hunter, an interaction designer in the NHS website redesign team at NHS Digital, explains how we did this.

Read more about building accessible and mobile-first services

Creating a blueprint for a new electronic patient record system 

Illustration showing different services being connected

NHS England’s Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme is using blueprints based on the lessons learned by exemplars to help other trusts introduce similar improvements. Here, Robbie Cline, Director of ICT Programmes for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust​ describes his experience.

Read more about Robbie's experience

 

A landmark moment: electronic prescriptions for controlled drugs

row of medicine on a pharmacy shelf

Controlled drugs are now part and parcel of the Electronic Prescription Service. Dr Ian Lowry, Director for Digital Integration, explains how this seismic shift came about and what it means for GP practices, community pharmacies and patients.

Read more about how the evolution of EPS, now including controlled drugs, has made a huge difference to GPs and pharmacists...

Mental health help at the click of a mouse

A computer user clicking on a mouse

NHS.UK is making it easier for people with anxiety and depression to refer themselves online for NHS treatment. Content designer Martine Gallie explains how the team helped to make that happen.

Read more about this work

NHS Apps Library: moving from Beta to Live

Image of Victoria Hunt, product owner and author of this blog.

The NHS Apps Library’s vision is to enable its users to find trusted health and wellbeing apps, assessed by the NHS as clinically safe and secure to use. Find out more about how we assess apps against a range of standards

The Beta version of the NHS Apps Library (apps.beta.nhs.uk), was launched in April 2017 when the Apps and Wearables programme was in its infancy.

Read more about how the NHS Apps Library's design has evolved as the site ends its beta phase and officially goes live.

 

Creating better content for users with low health literacy

The front page of the NHS website

We’re working to improve the NHS website by making it better for people who struggle to use patient information. Here, content designer Mark Robinson and user researcher Ana Savic explain. 

Read more about our work to improve the NHS website

How to design a login for the modern NHS

black and white head and shoulders of the author

In her recent blog article about user research for NHS login, Rochelle Gold explained how we did user research to understand how people currently use NHS services, how they access them, and what challenges they are facing. This research told us how people needed a single way to access their health services, records and apps, and this is the challenge NHS login was set to address.

Read more about the insight, research and design work of the team behind NHS login.

 

Pee and poo and the language of health

Holding a phone looking at 'P' in the A to Z

People come to the NHS website to get answers to their questions about health, so they need web pages that are easy to understand. The content designers who write our pages know that the words we use affect how well, and how quickly, people understand. And that affects their health.

We research and choose the words that work best – and now we’ve published some of them in an A to Z list for people who write about health and the NHS.

Read more about the research that has gone into deciding which words we should use...

Scaling up: delivering a national 111 online service

Hand of someone walking down road holding phone with 111 Online up on the screen

Where do you go when you have an urgent medical problem? NHS 111 online began with this basic user need – we wanted to provide a fast, convenient alternative for people who would rather access urgent healthcare advice online.

Since 2017, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the NHS 111 online team. As coverage spreads and the service develops, reiterates and continues to evolve, here’s some of what we’ve learnt along the way.

Read more about the work of the team delivering 111 online.

A single identity for health – how user research influences the design of the NHS login

A title image showing a picture of Rochelle Gold, lead user researcher for NHS login and Personal Health Records, with the title of her blog A single identity for health – how user research influences the design of the NHS login

It is such a straightforward concept that you would have thought we’d already have it: a single way to allow people to use one set of details to log into all their digital health services. We’ve been working over the past few years to develop this simple but powerful capability, which we call the NHS login, and it’s been a fascinating journey into the heart of our users’ experiences and expectations.

Read more about user research's influence into the design of the NHS login

 

How apps and wearables can support patients with epilepsy

Consultant neurologist Dr Rupert Page shares his views on the use of apps and wearables to support patients with epilepsyI have been Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) for Poole Hospital NHS FT for six years and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) for eight years. I have been involved in informatics from the outset of my career, initially in the development of our electronic patient record system. I could see  significant benefits in clinicians having access to a patients’ data. Patients often arrive expecting me to know their medical history –to have reviewed the letters, notes and blood results beforehand.

Read more about how apps and wearables can support patients

The role of CCIOs in Digital Transformation of the NHS 

Head and shoulders of Ayesha Rahim

I have always had an interest in digital health. Like many colleagues, I have been frustrated by a lack of accessible information to support the care of individuals or the redesign of services. I want clinicians to lead the way in changing this, so, naturally I was excited to apply for the role CCIO when it came up in August 2017!

Read more about Ayesha's view on the role of CCIOs about how the NHS Digital Academy has helped her to do her job more effectively

 

Do you know what your users need…and who they all are?

Matt Lund head and shoulders in black and white

In his Expo 18 keynote speech Health Secretary Matt Hancock delighted the user research and service design community when he talked about ensuring “an agile, iterative approach focused on the question: what is the user need?”

Read more about how the team are involving users in the development of their Public Health Record adoption toolkit.

Electronic Maternity Care Records - what women want?

Midwife holding a green tablet device speaking to a pregnant woman

When we talk about 'empowering the person' what we are really talking about is giving people the things they want, need and have often come to expect.  To disempower people leads to frustration, uncertainty, lack of control and a lack of choice for those on the receiving end.  The NHS doesn't mean to do this, but it hasn't traditionally empowered people to have control or even sufficient choice over their own care.  But it doesn't have to be that way.     

Our latest blog talks about the ambitions and progress of the team delivering electronic maternity care records.

Continuity in change

Head and shoulders of Dr Simon Eccles in a suit and tie

Change without continuity and clarity of ambition can result in chaos and disconnection from the shared vision of care that drives successful organisations. With the recent government announcement of additional funding for the NHS, we have a genuine opportunity to plan for the next five years, confident of the level of budget increases we can expect. The NHS has been working at tremendous pace on a plan setting out our ambitions for improvement over the next decade, going beyond the five years of the funding settlement.

Read more about the work that has gone into the development of the Long Term Plan.

The National Record Locator Service

Dr Aidrian Burke headshot

When I explain to someone outside of the health and care sector what it is that the National Record Locator Service does, they look at me with a perplexed expression. The public and our expectation is that the NHS is one organisation and that records are shared for direct care to support the delivery of the right care at the right time. They think National Record Locator Service is already what our electronic records do. It must be, surely?

 

How NHS WiFi is helping to create efficiencies for staff with better outcomes for patients

Community midwife Julie Haigh speaks to a patient while working at a computerAs a community midwife in a remote area of England, working in an area where you would pray for one bar of signal strength to show on your phone, you can imagine my joy to discover that all of the GP sites in Cumbria now have free NHS WiFi connectivity. 

Find out more about community midwife Julie Haigh's experience with NHS WiFi

NHS login – improving access to digital health and care services

An example of the process of an NHS loginAt the end of September, the NHS launched a private beta for the hugely exciting NHS App, which is accessed using a new NHS login service. So, we thought this was a useful opportunity to look at the bigger picture and explain why an NHS login is a game-changer in its own right.

Read more about how NHS login is improving access to digital health and care services

 

NHS Digital Academy – recruitment for cohort 2 open

Members of the NHS Digital Academy cohort 1 take part in a group photograph wearing blue t-shirts

Seeing the development of the NHS Digital Academy here in the UK was exciting and having the opportunity to apply was something I did not want to miss, as I believed it would fulfil what I was looking for.

Read more about the second cohort here

 

From Childline to online: how mental health apps can support teens

Louise Mushet and Victoria Hunt

Hello, we’re Louise Mushet (senior service designer) and Victoria Hunt (NHS Apps Library product owner) from the Apps and Wearables programme at NHS Digital. Today is World Mental Health Day, with a focus on young people and mental health in a changing world. We feel privileged to be in one of several teams at NHS England and NHS Digital working in partnership all year round to ensure that those experiencing stress and anxiety can find the right support online when they need it most.

Read more about how how mental health apps can support teens

Design principles for health and care

Designers workshop design principles sitting and standing around a table

I’m Dean, and I’m the lead designer for the NHS website. I also work with lots of other designers in different parts of the organization. We are pleased to publish a set of design principles, for people making services and tools in the NHS. They will guide designers’ decision making, and help people from other professions understand what design is for, and how it can benefit people.​​​​​​

Read more about our design principles

Working with the voluntary and community sector to empower people to manage their health and care digitally

Photo of Nicola Fulton head and shoulders

My team in NHS England is responsible for transforming how people can manage their health and care and access services using digital technology. We believe online health information and services can improve people’s health and wellbeing, patients’ experience, and reduce pressures on frontline services.

Read more about how we're working with the voluntary and community sector.

Improving social care information on the NHS website

A screenshot of the new social care guide on the website on a tablet and a phone

I’ve been working on a project to create a new care and support guide on the NHS website. We started in December 2017 looking to understand what social care information users of the NHS website need. Since then, we’ve interviewed people who use services, carers and professionals up and down the country. We’ve designed prototypes and tested them with real people. And we’ve used the findings from all of this to create a new care and support guide on NHS.uk.

Read more about how we've gone about creating the guide.

 

How digital apps are helping to realise personalised care for people and deliver real savings for services

Richard Partlin head and shoulders smiling

My name is Richard Pantlin and I co-ordinate a number of digital initiatives for NHS England’s Personalised Care Group. In addition, I  support several STPs/ICSs to implement digital systems (using co-production) for personalised care & support plans and e-marketplaces for care. He led the IT Challenge in 2017 culminating in the report “Harnessing Technology for Personalised Care” and an updated report with more details of IT solutions will be available later this year.

Read more about how apps are helping improve patients ability to look after themselves and saving money for the NHS.

 

Improving help for patients with type 1 diabetes on the NHS website

Screenshot of diabetes landing page

The National Diabetes Audit found that only 30% of people with type 1 diabetes have stable blood sugar, compared to 68% of people with type 2 diabetes. This means a higher risk of things like A&E visits and complications.

A team of us at NHS.UK looked at how we can help people with type 1 diabetes

Read more about the improvements we've made.

Staff stood by TV screen with colour coding image.

I’m a content designer and I’ve been working on the standards team at NHS Digital. Over the last five months we have been working to put together a new NHS digital service manual to help people who build digital services for the NHS save time and work in a consistent, user-centred way. Back in April, I blogged about the beginnings of defining digital standards for the NHS. The first version of the service manual is now ready to be used, so I wanted to provide an update.

Read more about the manual we've produced.

The power of three

Justine Brightwell talks to her GP IT Futures team

Showing how we support general practice is an important theme at this year’s Health and Care Innovation Expo 2018 – Justine Brightwell and the GP IT programme are thinking in threes….

Read more about 'the power of three'

Widening Digital Participation – how far have we come?

Elderly people being shown how to access healthcare info on a laptop

Incredibly, we are now a year and half into the delivery of phase two of the Widening Digital Participation (WDP) programme and our partnership with Good Things Foundation. In my last blog we were just getting things started, so it feels like a good time to look back and see if we’ve got to where we wanted to be. The answer is definitely yes.

Read more about the progress made in the Widening Digital Participation programme.

Challenges of an NHS 111 call handler

 

Laura Tweedy from NHS Digital

Having just left the NHS 111 service to join NHS Digital Laura Tweedy reflects on the challenges and the benefits of this essential service.

Read more about 'Challenges of an NHS 111 call handler'

On track for Expo 2018

 

NHS Digital's Hadleigh Stollar on a train platform

Getting ready for Expo 2018 is involving a lot of train travel for NHS Digital’s Hadleigh Stollar who’ll be speaking about how the National Record Locator Service will help frontline staff make more informed decisions and provide better care.

Read more about our plans for Expo 2018

Making the NHS website better for everyone

NHS website home page on computer and phone

I’m a Product Manager at NHS Digital and my role is to look at how we can improve the design of the NHS website (www.nhs.uk). I work with a small team of skilled designers, developers and researchers. Together, we have recently made some important improvements to the site and this blog explains what they are and why we have made them.

Read more about 'Making the NHS website better for everyone'

A day on the frontline with paramedics

Paramedic operating Lifepak 15 monitor in ambulance

Back in December 2017 I was part of a team working to improve access to the Directory of Services.

The Directory of Services identifies where is best to send a patient. It does this by combining symptom information with local service availability. It was originally designed for NHS 111, but has great potential for clinicians and healthcare professionals in other areas of urgent and emergency care.

Read more about 'a day on the frontline with paramedics'

A nurse's take on how digital technology has transformed patient care during her career

A patient's finger being hooked up to a monitor in a hospital bed

When I first left home in 1985 to start my nurse training I loaded my stuff into my trusty old Renault and set off north to move to the nursing home never questioning that the aa road map, Northampton A-Z and a reasonable sense of direction would get me to my destination. On arriving I had to locate the payphone and my bag of 2p pieces to call home and let my parents know I was there and safe. That payphone (and essential bag of 2p pieces ) was my only means of contact with home for the next few years and if anyone actually wanted to contact me they had to ring said payphone and hope a kindly passer-by would answer it and then actually come and find me…

Read more of 'A nurse's take on how digital technology has transformed patient care'

How free NHS WiFi is already benefiting our GP practice

GP Dr Kirsty Gillgrass sitting in her chair by her desk in her surgery room

Last week, we became one of the latest GP practices to go live with free NHS WiFi, as the national NHS WiFi programme confirmed that it has now rolled out to three quarters of GP practices in England.

I’m told that the remaining 25 per cent are expected to follow soon, giving more than 58 million patients, across 7686 GP practices, access to free NHS WiFi, enabling them to link in with local health clinics and services and paving the way for future developments in digital patient care.

Read more about how NHS WiFi is making a difference

 

 

Are the bots taking over? No, but we’re going to put them to good work

Photos of the blog authors Dr Indra Joshi and Nikki Patel

Last Monday, as part of NHS70 Digital Week we launched ourselves into the virtual reality of AltspaceVR for a punchy debate entitled Are the bots taking over? How AI will affect the future of healthcare. And what an amazing experience it was.

Read more about 'Are the bots taking over?'

NHS Digital Academy: Digital Leaders are an integral part of the uptake of digital services across the system

The NHS Digital Academy logo

Four months, two residential sessions down – and now in the midst of the second module, the first 100 candidates are fully immersed as cohort one of the NHS Digital Academy programme.  The NHS launched the Digital Academy earlier this year with the main premise of supporting the development of a new generation of digital leaders who can drive the information and technology transformation of the NHS.  It was set up in response to Professor Robert Wachter’s Making IT Work report, which observed that the NHS was lacking in leaders who could drive forward the digital transformation required by the service. 

Read more about 'NHS Digital Academy leaders'

A case of digital emergency?

Hospital sign pointing to the Accident and emergency department

It doesn’t get much more real than urgent and emergency care in the NHS.

Every day, our GP surgeries, hospitals and urgent treatment centres help people facing medical challenges from minor through to life threatening. The chances are that person will have used a form of digital technology to get the help they found, whether that be googling their symptoms or contacting any of our telephone and online support services.

Read more of 'A case of digital emergency?'

The past, present and future of innovation to support and empower the patient

Head and shoulders of Jackie Tatterton and Hazel Jones of the NHS Digital Apps and Wearables programme

Hazel Jones and Jackie Tatterton work in the Apps and Wearables programme and here, they talk about how innovation has touched their field in the past, the present and potentially in the future.

Read more about 'The past, present and future of innovation to support and empower the patient'

The past, present and future of innovation in cyber security

Head and shoulders of NHS Digital head of data security Dan Taylor

If you’d mentioned cyber security to the first tranche of nurses and doctors joining the NHS in 1948, it’s safe to say you’d have received a few blank looks.

Read more about 'The past, present and future of innovation in cyber security'

The past, present and future of innovation in general practice

Dr Peter Short clinical advisor at NHS DigitalPeter Short is a GP and Clinical Advisor at NHS Digital. He trained at Birmingham Medical School and his driving passion is the use of systems and information that can be made available to support all frontline clinicians. Here he talks of how technology has shaped general practice over the years, and how he sees its future.

Read more about 'The past, present and future of innovation in general practice'

The past, present and future of innovation in mental health

 

Head and shoulders photo of Nick Venters wearing glasses, suit and open neck shirt

 

Mental health has been transformed over the last seventy years.  There have been so many changes: the closure of the old asylums; moving care into the community; the increasing the use of talking therapies.  They have all had a hugely positive impact on patients and mental health care.

 

Read more about 'The past, present and future of innovation in mental health'

Call the midwife – the past, present and future of innovation in maternity services

Head and shoulders of Jules Gudgeon in front of window with trees outside

When it comes to technical innovation in the NHS over the last 70 years, it’s ultrasound that I think has revolutionised the way we deliver care. This one innovation has changed the way we provide safer personalised maternity care for our women and babies.

Read more about 'Call the midwife – the past, present and future of innovation in maternity services'

The past, present and future of innovation in nursing

 

Head and shoulders photo of Caron Swinscoe at city centre waterfront


It’s a sobering thought, but I’ve been working in the NHS for 36 of its 70 years, so I’ve seen a lot of change. Most recently, the change which has excited me most has been the move towards mobile working. For me, it’s a real game changer; enabling nurses and midwives to access all the information they need to care for a patient wherever they are with that patient, whether it’s in a care setting, the patient’s home or a community setting.

Read more about 'The past, present and future of innovation in nursing'

The past, present and future of innovation in healthcare

 

Tracey Watson head and shoulders shot standing by canal

When I was asked to take part in the NHS Digital #NHS70innovations campaign I found it  tricky to pinpoint one area or a specific innovation that has transformed health care delivery over the last 70 years – there have been so many.

The greatest social innovation by far has been the actual introduction of the NHS itself.

Read more about 'The past, present and future of innovation in healthcare'

Evidence for Effectiveness in Digital Health Innovations

A side-on image of Dr Indra Joshi presenting in front of a large screen with a Powerpoint presentation

As digital health innovations develop at an increasing pace, it is important that they are safe, effective and offer value. Over the past few years the market has been flooded with some excellent innovations – and some not so good. It has not always been easy to distinguish between them. We have fatigued the system with endless pilots and trials but are seeing little ‘at scale’ adoption.

Read more about 'Evidence for Effectiveness in Digital Health Innovations'

The past, present and future of innovation in hospital and secondary care

 

Michael Folan in open neck shirt standing in front of city centre river

I’m a physiotherapist by background and I come from a family of NHS workers – my mum was a nurse, my wife is a physio and my sister-in-law is an occupational therapist. Family conversations subsequently often revolve around various aspects of the NHS.

Read more about 'The past, present and future of innovation in hospital and secondary care'

The past, present and future of innovation in pharmacy

 

Mohammed Hussain outside dressed in suit and red tie

As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday this year, I think of all the tremendous advancements that have taken place across pharmacy over the past seven decades.

Read more about 'The past, present and future of innovation in pharmacy'

The past, present and future of healthcare data innovations

 

Daniel Ray wearing a suit standing in front of brickwork office building

I cannot help but turn to the Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) when I look at how data played a part in shaping the NHS since it was first founded in 1948. There is no disputing the power of HES as its sheer volume and depth is phenomenal.

Read more about 'The past, present and future of healthcare data innovations'

The past, present and future of digital technology innovation in healthcare

A smiling Cleveland Henry in a suit next to a river with modern office buildings in the background

When I was asked to contribute to NHS Digital’s #NHS70innovations campaign and choose one technological innovation in health and care that I thought was the greatest in the last 70 years of the National Health Service, I thought where do I start? There’s lots!

Read more about 'The past, present and future of digital technology innovation in healthcare'

Improving online access to therapy services

Screenshot of the 'moodzone' online tool

We’re currently exploring what people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression need to be able to easily access the Improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) service on the website www.nhs.uk

We have three goals:

  • make it clear you can refer yourself to IAPT
  • make it easy to self-refer
  • let people know what to expect

We’re currently designing and testing prototype pages with users to help us understand how we can meet these goals. We conducted research with website users as part of a discovery phase and we’re now using this in the alpha phase which includes designing and testing prototypes. Our research focussed on finding out what people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression needed. We tested with website users the existing NHS Choices pages that cover Improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT)

 

Read more about 'Improving online access to therapy services'

Improving mental health through better data

Post it Notes saying Data, Data, and More Data

This #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek I was uplifted by the mental health journey NHS Digital is taking, and extremely proud to be able to help transform mental health services through the day to day work I do.

I’m part of a multi-disciplinary NHS funded mental health, learning disabilities, autism and Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. In doing so we are uncovering new insights that help support the vision set out in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. This aims to make it easier for everyone to access high quality services, bringing together mental health and physical health care, and to stop people from having mental health problems through the promotion of good mental health.

Read more about improving mental health through better data

Transforming pharmacy services with technology

Picture of Vishen Ramkisson

 

Digitising the prescribing and distribution of medicines has an enormous potential to improve patient care, increase safety and make our system in the NHS more efficient. As our world changes at a rate not seen since the industrial revolution, with vast swathes of our lives changing beyond recognition in just the last few years alone, pharmacy has been slow to adjust. We have made great progress, but there remains a reliance on inefficient, paper-based processes which slow us down, increase the potential for errors and cost money. This results in a huge administrative burden, not only on non-clinical support staff, but on pharmacists and primary care prescribers too.

The need for the NHS Digital’s Digital Medicines programmes of work to deliver the tools to change that is bigger now than ever. We spend £17.4 billion a year on medicines, over half of which is in primary care.

 

Read more about 'Transforming pharmacy services with technology'

Service design at NHS Digital

Service designers work behind a sign that reads NHS Digital Service Design Day

At NHS Digital, service design is still a very young discipline, but I believe that here more than anywhere else, service design can really make an impact, and now is the time to do so.

Read more about 'Service design at NHS Digital'

Mental health discovery

By Rosalyn Hewitt.  30 April 2018.

A person holding a smartphone accessing an NHS mental health app

We recently ran a discovery on mental health, focusing on understanding the user needs of people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression, and understanding the role of NHS.UK in supporting these needs.

Approximately 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems.

Read more about the Mental Health Discovery

Our plans for social care information on NHS Choices and the findings from our research

Lady walking down a street photographed from behind

We recently completed a discovery – a period of research – to understand what social care information we should feature on NHS Choices, and how we can make that information easy for people to find and use.

In this post you can find out a little bit more, download pretty much everything we learned, and discover what’s next for social care information on NHS Choices.

Read more about 'our plans for social care information on NHS Choices'

Sharing knowledge in the pursuit of better health care

 

Karina Tellinger head and shoulders photograph

In Sweden we have established a vision for e-health by 2025, which intends to use the possibilities of digitalization to make it easier for our citizens to achieve a good and equal well-being, while also strengthen the resources for independence and participation in the community.

Read more about 'sharing knowledge in the pursuit of better health care'

Winding down Register with a GP

 

Smartphone with NHS logo in the centre of its screen on plain blue background

In my last blog post I talked about Register with a GP going into private beta. Private beta is a working version of a service that’s available to a restricted number of people. It helps us learn about the usability of our service in the real world.

In this post I’ll share what we learned, some of the challenges we faced, and what led to our ultimate decision to stop working on Register with a GP.

Read more about 'Winding down 'Register with a GP'

NHS.UK Product Manager’s Manifesto

A photograph of a printed out 'manifesto' signed by all contributors in marker pen

 

Led by our new Head of Product, Marc Heasman, the Product Managers working on NHS.UK recently created a manifesto to describe our commitment to the ways in which we believe we should work.

This is the first version of our product team manifesto, and we’ll continue to work on it.

Let us know if you find this useful, or if you have something similar that you use.

Read more about the NHS.UK Product manager's manifesto

Defining digital standards for the NHS

With the particular needs of healthcare users and NHS having a strong, trusted brand, we’re noticing more and more that we need to go beyond the GDS standard and define our own universal method.

Read more about 'Defining digital standards for the NHS'

NHS e-Referral Service Paper Switch Off

 

Eve Roodhouse, NHS DIgital director, smiling looking to right of camera

My first job in the NHS in 2003 was working on the procurement of the first national electronic referral service for GP to first outpatient appointments (known then as Choose and Book).

I can still remember the jubilation when we got our first ten bookings completed and now, its successor the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) handles 50,000 patient referrals a day.

But despite the proven benefits to patients and clinicians, we’ve collectively missed the opportunity to maximise the technology investment with utilisation rates hovering around 52% for several years – until now.

Read more about the NHS e-Referral Service Paper Switch Off

Accessibility in digital tools and services

The NHS is for everyone, and those of us designing digital services for the NHS have a responsibility to ensure that everyone can access them.

Accessibility can mean all sorts of things, from ensuring buildings can be used by wheelchair users, to providing printed material in different languages. But there are also lots of things we can do to ensure digital tools and services can be used by people with a range of access needs.

Read more about accessibility in digital tools and services

NHS Choices social care discovery – an update

 

Some men in their 60s or 70s standing watching a non-league football match

A few months ago we started a ‘discovery’ – a 12-week period of intensive research – looking at adult social care information and advice on NHS Choices and elsewhere. We’re almost at the end of this phase of our work, which feels like a good time to share some of the things we’ve found.

Read more about the NHS Choices social care discovery

The challenge? A single, simple NHS app

A hand holding a smart phone displaying an NHS logo on a plain blue background

All the way back in September 2017, we were challenged to deliver a single app that would transform digital healthcare delivery. Our vision for this app is that it should provide patients with access to a range of digital tools and services, in a simple, consistent and joined up way.

Read more about the single NHS app

NHS.UK content migration update

 

photo of Charles Creswell wearing flowery shirt with corporate atrium background

 

We’ve wanted to move our content to a new software platform for some time. We believed it was necessary to underpin our ambitions for the development of the service. And we knew it would quickly unlock some important benefits for users.

Read more about the NHS.UK content migration

Growing the NHS Apps Library

 

A smartphone in a person's hand with an NHS app open on it.

The NHS Apps Library was launched as a public beta nearly a year ago. Now we want to encourage more developers to step forward and develop their apps, so that they can join this NHS digital platform.

Read more about growing the NHS apps library

NHS Wi-Fi: Connecting patients to digital services

 

Close up of wires plugged into a network server

The NHS Wi-Fi project continues to move at pace. In just 12 months, over 3000 GP practices are now offering free NHS Wi-Fi to over 25 million patients. Most of our 16 ‘high priority’ trusts who received funding in August have now rolled out Wi-Fi across their estates and the remainder are expected to do so before the end of February.

Read more about NHS Wi-Fi: Connecting patients to digital services

A Design Sprint: learning at pace


We’ve recently been looking into how we can help manage the impact of urgent prescription requests on the NHS 111 service. By supplying NHS 111 clinicians such as nurses, pharmacists and GPs with additional information about patients’ existing electronic prescriptions, we hope they will be able to make quicker, more informed decisions about whether or not to prescribe urgent medication. In essence, patients who need urgent medication will receive a better service and spend less time on the phone, meaning more time can be given to patients with more complex issues.

Read more about 'A design sprint: learning at pace'

Working together for a digital future

A close up of a digital screen with line graph readouts

Information and technology offers us a chance to not only meet the increased demand set out in the Five Year Forward View, but provide our patients with higher quality care and services which are quicker and more convenient to access

Read more about 'Working together for a digital future'

Healthy eating: a content transformation


How do you get through to people about eating well when they’re faced with an avalanche of influences every single day, from Instagram fads and slick food ads, to family habits and busy ‘grab and go’ lifestyles?

Read more about 'healthy eating: a content transformation'

Making the case for the personalised approach

 

Younger woman puts arm around elderly man in wheelchair photographed from behind

There are over 26 million people in the UK who live with at least one LTC and 10 million who have two or more. Their ongoing and complex needs are currently met by an already overstretched health and social care system.

One of the challenges facing the NHS is the fact that more people are living longer but not necessarily healthier lives. Advances in healthcare have brought greater life expectancy, and as people age they are more likely to have one or more LTC.

Read more about 'Making the case for the personalised approach'

 

Healthy eating: identifying our users’ needs

Screenshot of NHS healthy eating survey screen showing smiling man

In the second half of 2017 we embarked on a Discovery to understand more about the nation’s current food habits and what the role of NHS.UK is to help people make healthier choices.

Read more about 'Helathy eating: identifying our users' needs'

Healthy eating: from research to recommendations

 

Woman filming with a smartphone on tripod in a kitchen

The NHS.UK healthy eating discovery explored a range of hypotheses, including:

  • establishing a need for trustworthy healthy eating content on NHS.UK
  • understanding the tone of voice people responded to the best
  • usage of healthy eating apps and tools
  • how social media and videos influenced people’s understanding and choices
  • how journeys with a health concern differed from those without
  • healthcare professionals’ involvement in the healthy eating journey

Read more about 'Healthy eating: from research to recommendations'

 

Digital Campaigns: 2017 round-up

 

A background of faded logos with 'digital campaigns' written in the foreground

It’s been another whirlwind year in the digital campaigns arena. Here’s a snapshot of what the Digital Campaigns Team (DCT) worked on and delivered in 2017.

Read more about the Digital campaigns 2017

Working with stakeholders to develop a guide to digital inclusion

 

The front page of the digital inclusion guide, with photo of late-middle-aged woman being shown how to do something on a computer by a smiling man.

 

As part of its Widening Digital Participation programme, NHS Digital and NHS England are now producing a guide to digital inclusion for local health and care organisations. In September we wrote about the discovery phase of this project.

 

Read more about 'Working with stakeholders to develop a guide to digital'

 

 

See blog posts from past years

See 2017 blogs

See 2016 blogs

See 2015 blogs