27 September 2017
Frontline care is under increasing pressure. Those working on the frontline in health and social care face conflicting priorities and demands, and have to make difficult decisions at a time when it is harder than ever before to make ends meet.
So why does digital transformation matter? Why should we invest time and money in technology and information systems?
I believe that digital technology, put to work in the right way, can underpin effective integration, it can speed up services, it can save money, and most importantly it can support patients and care professionals. We care about making this happen.
However, equally important is that digital technology and information isn’t put to work in the wrong way, so that is why working in partnership is vital.
I lead on the Implementation and Business Change team here at NHS Digital. This team gets out on the frontline, listening, understanding, and advising to ensure three fundamental things.
Firstly, the national services and solutions we develop must serve the needs of those on the frontline.
Look at the NHS Spine, the e-Referrals Service, or NHSmail – all massively important standardised services delivered centrally that everyone needs in order to connect with each other safely and securely.
But consider the cost savings. The NHS spends more on postage nationally each year than the salaries of more than 2,000 nurses. By using digital technology over traditional “snail mail”, we can bring costs down, save time and resources, but most importantly speed up decisions about care for the patient.
How about the electronic Summary Care Record? A patient’s SCR includes important information taken from their GP medical records, which can be accessed electronically by an authorised clinician anywhere in the country if they are directly involved in that patient’s care. The positives of this are safer and faster care for the patient.
But what about enhancing that information to make the patient even safer?
We’ve been working with Gloucestershire CCG and the CSU to realise the benefits of uploading and sharing additional information across the health community.
More than 16,000 records across the county have been uploaded in addition to the standard SCR data, with Gloucestershire Hospitals Trust leading the way with using this information to care for patients.
With the support of the emergency departments, we supported the CSU in engaging with custody suites, the homeless centre and the Mental Health and Community Trusts and we are now working with the ambulance trust to extend viewing even further.
Secondly, we know even the best intentions from the centre can fall short if direction and design are not the result of a two-way conversation. We also realise that one size does not fit all.
This is why working together and sharing best practice is so important.
We are incredibly proud of our involvement in the Child Protection – Information Sharing project or CP-IS, and for good reason, as almost 80,000 children across England are already protected by it.
CP-IS ensures that if a looked after child or a child on a Child Protection Plan attends an unscheduled care setting, like an A&E, both the health team and the social care team are alerted.
Uptake is growing all of the time, with 56 healthcare organisations currently live with CP-IS.
Alder Hey Children’s Hospital is an organisation committed to implementing CP-IS. Alder Hey didn’t have an accredited, integrated solution available to them, so we’re working together, sharing expertise, as we move towards them going live with the system this autumn.
And lastly, sometimes it is support, expertise, and the sharing of best practice can make a huge difference to the frontline.
Cyber security is one of the main topics today at UK Health Show, and three of my colleagues who are specialists in the field are sharing their knowledge.
Our Data Security Centre offers organisations advice and guidance on how to improve their data security and to prevent cyber-attacks.
We’ve worked with Papworth Trust to support them with their cyber security. Papworth views NHS Digital as an “extra string to their bow” providing extra input, extra expertise and extra validation. And they view themselves rightly as a partner and customer that can give us their views, feedback and ideas and help influence how our services evolve to best meet local need.
Health and care organisations can sign up to our CareCERT bulletin or contact the specialist team, here: https://digital.nhs.uk/services/data-security-centre
Ultimately, none of these achievements would have been possible without partnership. This is why we are running our #DigitalPartners campaign. We want to work together with you as digital partners. We care about supporting you.
We visited UK Health Show to listen, to understand the pressures faced, the hard decisions that need to be made, and how we can use our expertise to make things better.