Since its inception in 2013, NHS Digital has played a pivotal role in the creation, implementation and continued momentum of the health service’s digital IT strategy. Collaborative projects are on the rise, however more recently a focus has been on the adoption of technologies by other government departments and agencies.
Management at NHS Digital has called on the entire health service to renew its commitment to technology, with a keen interest in the vocal recognition system currently used by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Through collaboration with the Government Digital Service, investigations are ongoing into how the technology could support the health service, especially from an accessibility point of view. As HMRC experiments with voice authentication and biometrics for security, a similar approach could work with the elderly who can find working with voice services easier.
NHS Digital is hoping to learn from this and explore the potential for call-based services such as the national non-emergency helpline, 111. Whilst the technology might be available, the main challenges come from its integration. More than 90% of GPs offer online services, however only 16.5% of patients are using them! Only by combining the two can the benefit of such technology be reaped by both the organisations that will deploy it and the patients that will use it. The adoption of new technologies must be based on valid, current and reliable data that can be used to assess not just its viability but also its success. This task cannot sit with NHS Digital alone.
It’s all well and good equipping facilities with technology, but we must also have personnel that can use it. Whether it’s the RCN’s Every Nurse an eNurse campaign or the NHS Digital Academy from Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation, the health service is addressing these skills gaps with programs that will grow as technology advances.
Creating smarter processes, collaborating on ideas, integrating new technologies, shaping care models; it all comes down to having the right leadership to help drive growth and change. The future of the health service doesn’t sit solely with digital, it will require an organisational shift that will fundamentally change the way we work with technology.