Digital transformation blog

Read about how NHS Digital and NHS England are working together, and with partners, to transform health and care.

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

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.

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The past, present and future of innovation in cyber security

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.

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The past, present and future of innovation in general practice

Peter 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.

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

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.

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The past, present and future of innovation in mental health



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.

The past, present and future of innovation in nursing


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.

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The past, present and future of innovation in healthcare


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.

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Evidence for Effectiveness in Digital Health Innovations

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.

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


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.

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The past, present and future of innovation in pharmacy


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.

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The past, present and future of healthcare data innovations


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.

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

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!


Improving online access to therapy services

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

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)


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Improving mental health through better 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.

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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.


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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.

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

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.

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NHS.UK Product Manager’s Manifesto


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.

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Winding down Register with a GP


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.

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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.

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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.

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NHS e-Referral Service Paper Switch Off


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.

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Sharing knowledge in the pursuit of better health care


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.

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NHS Choices social care discovery – an update


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.

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The challenge? A single, simple NHS app

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.

Growing the NHS Apps Library


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.

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NHS Wi-Fi: Connecting patients to digital services


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.

It’s been a busy time for all involved. The NHS Wi-Fi team has been supporting all CCGs and

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.

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Working together for a digital future


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

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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?

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Healthy eating: identifying our users’ needs

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.

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Healthy eating: from research to recommendations


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

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Making the case for the personalised approach


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.

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Digital Campaigns: 2017 round-up


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.

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NHS.UK content migration update



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.

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Working with stakeholders to develop a guide to digital inclusion



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.


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