Digital technology is the only way forward for NHS sustainability

Following NHS England’s announcement last month on seven NHS Foundation Trusts (FT) successfully securing funding to become Global Digital Exemplars (GDEs) for Mental Health, NHS England has confirmed availability of funding for a series of schemes.

According to NHS England, the trusts will have up to £70m to invest in digital services – consisting of £35m with additional match funding from themselves of £35m – in order to become ‘Global Digital Exemplars for Mental Health’ helping the organisations become world-leading in the use of IT, providing knowledge and expertise to the wider NHS in order to reduce time and costs for others.

The funding will ensure plans to accelerate the digital transformation of the NHS and create a blueprint of success for creating a paperless NHS aren’t subject to delays that the Acute GDEs have suffered.

Tech company Advanced has worked with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust in creating successful bids with NHS England and NHS Digital. Each bid had to demonstrate evidence as to how it would deliver accelerated innovation and a blueprint for other organisations to follow. These covered the following key areas:

  • Improving process of care
  • Data to inform decisions
  • Safety and effectiveness
  • Continuous improvement
  • Patient Access

The winning bids incorporate innovative ideas and embrace technology developments in areas such as secure mobile access and the Internet of Things (IoT). Each were underpinned by tailored software solutions from Advanced and adhere to national NHS digital standards and guidelines.

As announced by NHS England on 12 April, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust will be working in partnership with the University of Oxford to develop an online platform for people experiencing a range of conditions (including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety) to receive tried-and-tested psychological therapies on their computer or mobile phone.

Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust is enabling its staff to work remotely. The Trust has moved from multiple patient record systems to one system across the organisation. Mobile access to the patient record system is now being rolled out to enable staff such as district nurses to access and update a patient’s records from the field without having to come back to the office.

Given the industry is already a year into the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, announced in February 2016, there is a need for urgency to ensure the innovations can be delivered and make an impact, without delay.

“It’s a welcome step forward to see the Government commit this investment in digital technology to GDEs in mental health, an area which has been underfunded for many years,” said Nick Wilson, Managing Director – Public Sector, Health & Care – Advanced.

“We know that technology delivers a better patient outcome and drives efficiencies, not to take people’s jobs but to transform roles and free up skilled staff to enhance care. We are excited to help define what a paperless NHS will look like and now that NHS England has confirmed the funding, there’s the opportunity for immediate action.

“To ensure the NHS digital transformation becomes a reality and allow companies like Advanced work with the GDEs to demonstrate success, we welcome the Government’s prompt action to make the funds available – we are all keen to get started.”

Nick concludes: “The sooner the GDEs are in place with agreed blueprints, the sooner the learnings can be rolled out to others and a step change in technology adoption can take place, delivering a positive impact to patient care.”

Stephen Docherty, Chief Information Officer at South London and Maudsley, added: “We are really pleased to be part of the global digital exemplar (GDE) programme. This designation recognises the hard work of the team over the last two years as we have embarked upon our digital transformation journey.

“With the £5m in matched funding we will be able to accelerate the great work we are already doing to ensure that frontline staff can maximise their use of digital technology to improve clinical services for patients, resulting in better patient experience, better outcomes and efficiency savings.

“We can now move forward with the rapid development of new platforms such as our e-observation programme, our mobile clinical app and our new personal health record, which will allow patients and service users to self-manage their conditions with online access to their health records, resources and care plans. It’s great news and we are looking forward to getting on with it.”

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