Why a new innovation culture needs to be the core of the “digital” NHS

The pace of change will only get faster and faster. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, investment in digital health startups has exploded, and The number and types of digital innovations available in healthcare are rapidly expanding.

Physical tools (such as gloves, needles, etc.) can and do change, but compared to digital tools, the speed of change is slower and the function is fixed. Processes, governance, and patient paths are designed for healthcare systems that use physical tools. But digital transformation has brought its own challenges. When an update arrives and a few new features are added, you usually feel that you have just become familiar with a software tool. This means that both medical staff and patients need to regularly re-familiarize themselves with digital tools and explore the utility of any new features.

Build a leadership culture

How can we successfully provide the rich options that digital-led innovation can provide in a rapidly evolving development environment? We may unconsciously think that solving problems such as weak IT infrastructure-old computers and slow connections are the solutions. However, although these issues undoubtedly still exist and need to be resolved, I believe that the two key challenges we face now are often overlooked, namely culture and leadership.

First, we need to create an NHS organization and leadership culture that is more willing to explore new tools and processes. This approach must be cultivated by shaping and creating a more relaxed environment to promote innovation leaders; clear that digital innovation is part of the core professional responsibilities of NHS employees; and support digital nursing innovation to make it a daily activity.

Second, we must support changing the culture that is closest to the place where medical services are provided. This is where we need a culture of innovation. This culture treats public failure as a learning mechanism; establishes a support network to celebrate and assist in learning from others and share rewards; this makes rapid testing and verification the norm. This requires clinical leaders to support staff working with patients and the public to test tools in public, fail safely and gain experience to drive improvements. Employees need to have a network of colleagues, encourage innovative governance and human resources that encourage role innovation, and give freedom to shape processes and approaches by emphasizing responsibilities rather than tasks.

Unfortunately, we are still far from realizing this ambition.Some areas such as Aldersea Children’s Hospital, Leeds and York collaborated with the NHS Foundation Trust and the Guy and St Thomas NHS Trust in the United Kingdom are already demonstrating some aspects of this approach.And the introduction of integrated care systems may provide great potential to network these methods and spread them throughout the region, if The long-standing zoom barrier Be overcome.

Disrupt to drive digital innovation

But looking at the breadth of health services, professional roles are mainly task-based, clinical pathways are hindered by processes and governance, and they are very reluctant to allow risks or failures. Changes in healthcare can also follow classic “waterfall” project management techniques, where there are neat linear sequential steps, with set milestones and deliverables. For successful digital innovation, we need to use an iterative “test, fail, and improve” approach to agile methods, combined with user-based design (rather than technology-led design) to establish a safety net.

Combining these factors with the conditions for successful digital innovation feels inconsistent with the existing dominant medical culture and processes.Effective digital innovation will mean disruption In fact Healthcare culture and leadership, we must recognize and deal with the discomfort that this may bring.

So, is the NHS ready to unleash digital innovation? The recently published Wade-Gery review on how the NHS organizes and supports digital transformation offers some useful suggestions that will create conditions for a successful digital transformation, including years of funding to support digital transformation.

The Wade-Gery review also set out to transform the center of the NHS to be more digital by expanding digital thinking throughout NHS England and achieving the ambitious title of the review through nine recommendations”[put] Data, numbers, and technology are at the core of the NHS transformation. This may prove to be the largest lasting impact of the review.

However, if there is no clear and thoughtful approach to cultural change at the time of the merger, there are real risks NHS Digital, NHSX and NHS EnglandInstead of transformation, it will only lead to the creation of two isolated “digital boards” in the center that are still out of touch with more “mainstream” decisions and policies.

If the NHS will embrace the disruptive leadership and culture required to initiate digital transformation, then NHS England has a clear opportunity to simulate the behaviors that other healthcare systems need to demonstrate. This will be disruptive, but without it, digital care will still be an add-on, and we will only have a down-to-earth healthcare system-so cultural change should be a priority.

Dr. Pritesh Mistry, Digital Technology Policy Researcher at the King’s Fund.



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