The digital transformation agenda and the changes in 2021

December 16, 2021

Denis Duignan, Health Innovation Network’s Head of Digital Transformation reflects on what’s been happening recently in the world of digital transformation and technology.

NHS Digital and NHSx merging into NHS England
 
The government announced that NHS Digital and NHSx are to be merged into NHS England, forming part of the new Transformation Directorate within NHSE alongside Improvement, and Innovation, Research and Life Sciences. This move has come about following the publication of the much-anticipated Laura Wade-Gery Review.  It’s been driven in part by a desire to build on the progress made in digital transformation throughout the pandemic and to create greater alignment and co-operation between the ‘digital’ policy and strategy people and the delivery agents across the organisations.

What might this mean?
 
We will have to wait and see how much it’ll practically affect the merging arm’s length bodies and what this means for patients and staff on the ground, but I suspect due to the recent injection of funding for digital and technology in the Autumn Budget (£2.3 billion for increased diagnostic capacity and £2.1 billion to support the innovative use of digital technology) that we (digital health enthusiasts) have reason to be optimistic. 

“Within the Digital Transformation & Technology team, we are kicking off a number of exciting projects…”

The other reason for optimism around the digital transformation agenda comes as a result of some clarity given in recent NHSx publications describing what good looks like (WGLL), who pays for what and the unified tech fund which has set out to simplify and consolidate the many funding pots for digital. WGLL has set the goalposts for Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and already we are seeing digital strategies emerging across the country, with south west London Health and Care Partnership recently approving its, signifying a real step-change in ICS maturity.

What’s the HIN’s Transformation & Technology team up to?
 

Within the Digital Transformation & Technology team, we are kicking off a number of exciting projects which will see us explore automation in primary care, address elective recovery and improve outpatient services through technology.

On a personal note, the highlight of my last few weeks was trying our Office Manager’s Oculus Quest two virtual reality system which she set up in the office for a few of us to try. This tech absolutely blew my mind and although I’ve been hearing about how VR will change healthcare for quite a while, seeing is believing.

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