Healthcare Goes High-Tech: Digital Transformation in the NHS

31st July 2019 - 12:00

By Nicole Morley

Technologies such as cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) have the power to reshape every industry and sector, provide new solutions to everyday problems, and change the way that we do business. In no other industry is there greater potential for tech to change—and even save—lives than there is in healthcare.

At the start of this year, the NHS announced its Long Term Plan[1], which aims to improve the NHS’s processes and patients’ experiences over the next decade. At the core of the plan is a massive digital transformation. But why is this move towards tech so important, what’s being done, and what could be done to help?


Why It Matters

According to data[2] presented by the BBC, the NHS sees an average of over 1 million patients daily across the UK. Over 50,000 patients are admitted to hospital on a normal weekday. Then, of course, there are all the patients in A&E and primary care. Despite being the fifth largest employer in the world, it’s safe to assume that NHS staff have their hands full with the sheer volume of patients they treat daily.

Healthcare is an industry where experience and timing are everything. Patients want to feel cared for, individualised and prioritised. That can be hard to do in a busy hospital or GP surgery. It’s also an industry where timing is sometimes a matter of life-or-death. It’s imperative that busy staff are able to manage their time efficiently and effectively in order to provide top-level care.

Of course, such high volumes of patients equates to huge amounts of data being collected and managed. This can be time consuming for the staff and detrimental to the patient if handled improperly. Data analysis, management, and storage are critically important to the NHS and its millions of patients, and therefore should not be taken lightly.


What’s Being Done?

The NHS appears to be tackling all of these issues in their plans. First and foremost, the NHS is in the process of shifting its records to digital[3] and interoperable[4] systems. This will allow the data to be encrypted for patient protection, but also allows NHS staff to access and update patient records quickly and efficiently. Not only is this digitisation improving efficiency and security, it’s also providing accessibility. Patients will be able to access their own health records, self-care management tools, and care plans digitally through patient portals and applications[5]. Online consultation systems will connect patients with their GP surgery and other specialists when needed. Tools like these can provide patients with immediate answers to their queries and immediate healthcare attention, and saves them a trip to their GP. 

Meanwhile, telehealth and telecare tools enable healthcare professionals to remotely monitor patient data and provide treatment without the need for a face-to-face appointment. Clinicians will find it easier to collaborate with one another, and will benefit from easy access to data in order to agree patient pathways and guide clinical decision-making and referrals[6]. Processes will run smoother, and care providers will save valuable time.

The plan includes other strategies for improving NHS systems. Technology will soon be used to support key functions including[7]:

  • Workforce planning
  • Commercial and procurement tools and platform
  • Improved intelligence about stakeholders through corporate use of CRM
  • Operational management such as incident management and response

Should all of these plans run smoothly and the NHS is successful in its digital transformation efforts, the way healthcare is given and received will change forever.


Keys for Success in the NHS and Beyond

That said, digital transformation is a complicated and often uncomfortable process. It cannot and will not happen overnight, so it’s reassuring that the NHS has given itself a decade to fully enact its strategic plan. Some pushback from patients or staff should be expected. Changing tried-and-tested practices usually makes people uncomfortable initially.

The key in any digital transformation process is to have the right people in place to create systems that function well, are easy to use, and are fit for purpose. Having a solid team in place helps to build strong support in-house, but it is often beneficial to bring in interim or contract workers. These short-term workers may be able to provide added expertise to a problem, or can help you turn over a project quickly and effectively. Putting the right people in charge of your digital transformation is the best thing you could possibly do. You’ll end up with better outputs, software, systems, or applications because of it.


It’s still early days for the NHS’s Long Term Plan, but the digital transformation goals are poised to transform healthcare services for both patients and practitioners.

The team at Advento has vast experience supplying interim and contract workers across four specialist areas, Digital Technology, Data, Cyber and Change within the private and public sector. If you’re looking to hire the best temporary talent to support your digital transformation project, Advento can help. We are a key supplier on the Crown Commercial Services framework for Non Clinical Non Medical temporary staff Lot 3 IT professionals, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.









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