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Digital Transformation in the NHS

by Sam Shah, Director, Digital Development, NHS

The use of technology in the NHS has made great strides in recent years; the NHS App is being rolled out over England this year, allowing patients to access their medical records, book appointments and order repeat prescriptions all from one place. Almost all GP practices and pharmacies are now live with the new Electronic Prescribing Service (EPS), and 111 online is helping to empower patients in choosing appropriate services for their care. These represent but a few of the many developments that have taken place in the last couple of years.

There is more in the works too. The NHS is in the early stages of utilising artificial intelligence, and we are actively investigating it’s use in both middle office and in front line care services, where decision support systems can aid clinicians in optimising prescribing practices. Personalised medicine incorporating genetic testing is beginning to make its way towards more mainstream usage. As data will need to flow more freely between healthcare providers, planners and patients, we are exploring the use of blockchain in data security.

These are complex issues; how we expose machine learning systems to reasoning is pivotal in their usefulness, while ethical issues around data security and information sharing are core tenets of our work. Ensuring the workforce is equipped with the necessary skills to utilise these systems to their fullest extent will require continuing our efforts in long-term planning and engagement of multiple NHS organisations and government departments.

These developments in the digital health and care ecosystem are rapidly advancing, and for the NHS to do good on its commitment to provide world-leading care, it needs to keep up. We recognise that we cannot do this alone, and we are looking to the technology sector to help us solve our problems. We want to encourage innovation and foster a system that allows cutting edge companies to work with us to enhance the standard of digital health and care tools and services.
In order to help achieve this, the NHS will be back at London Tech Week to seek out innovative products and services, assess propositions and consider opportunities for collaboration. We know there is great work being developed, and as the biggest healthcare organisation in the world we want to hear from companies attending LTW who can help us meet some of the greatest challenges in keeping the nation healthy.

The NHS was in attendance at last year’s London Tech Week and met several organisations that have helped to influence our consumer-centric strategy, ensuring that our services are simple and easy to use for patients and clinical teams. We have had a record number of agencies bidding for work with us as a result of our attendance, some of which we have now appointed to carry out discovery work in the NHS. We will be back this year looking for further such opportunities.

Attending such events such as these not only gives us an invaluable opportunity to see the innovations that could transform patient care, but also provides us with information on what the potential barriers are for companies to work with the NHS. From these events, we have established that many companies are struggling to navigate the NHS; they do not understand its complex structures, how we operate or even how to begin working with the NHS. Acquiring this knowledge can facilitate the NHS to cultivate and shape an environment that embraces innovation to ensure patients can benefit from the best available care.

That is why we want to hear from innovative developers and companies at LTW that are making a difference in improving patient care and health outcomes. By working together in earnest, we can help you to help us and, most importantly, help citizens all over England. We look forward to seeing you there.

You can hear more from Sam at London Tech Week’s Future of Work Summit.

June 2019