The pressure is on NHS organisations and Trusts to further invest and take strides towards digitalising the NHS.
With a society that increasingly relies on technology to conduct or support many daily tasks, the NHS is regarded as lagging behind. But, the NHS has learnt from past mistakes that it needs to take a more considered approach to ensuring that digitalisation of processes and procedures delivers the desired outcomes.
In 2016, the Treasury allocated £4.2 billion to support digitalisation in the NHS and creating paperless working practices plays a big part in the move. Yet, there is more to it than just throwing away the paper and bringing in computers. Processes, systems and staff all need to work together to ensure success.
The enormity of the task is not always at the forefront of those judging the NHS. Trusts and indeed, departments within a Trust, utilise an array of systems – both paper and computer-based. IT departments must take a step back to consider what they are trying to achieve and analyse the best steps to gain the right results.
Whatever the current popular opinion of the NHS, its role is crucial – providing vital care to the UK’s 65+ million residents. Any implementation of new technology must enhance service to patients, as well as provide efficiencies to operations.
The National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT) was launched in 2002 and subsequently shut down in 2011. It deemed to fail because too much was pushed through too quickly adopting a top-down approach, with limited engagement with Trusts and clinicians.
There are many learnings that can be taken from NPfIT. IT departments need to take a step back and analyse how teams work, engaging the front-line users to ensure technology enhances productivity. This step is much more vital than speed. From this analysis, clear objectives and outcomes can be identified.
The ultimate outcome for the NHS is better patient care – this must be at the heart of all considered changes to IT and very much plays into the other goals of building productivity and safety throughout the organisation.
These objectives can only be achieved by implementing the right systems and protecting any investment. Ensuring interoperability from the start is crucial to future-proof systems as the NHS adapts and changes over time.
Secure, reliable and robust systems will become more essential as the NHS strives to decrease the paper load and focuses to empower staff to complete their roles more efficiently and effectively. IT can have more effective results by considering all influences and users before pushing through a one-size fits all approach.
The driving force of digitalisation is the need to deliver better patient care, which can only be achieved with a thought out, user-centered approach that will engage staff and win support.
BDS Solutions works with NHS organisations delivering a Connected Community Infrastructure which assists in heading towards a paperless service, improving communication and IT systems. Challenging times, but with the right partner, NHS organisations can take strides towards a modern, digital service.