Digital transformation blog

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

NHS Digital and NHS England logos, side by side

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

 

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'

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?'

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'

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'

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

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'

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'

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 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

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'

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'

 

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'

 

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