06th November 2019 Written by Hadleigh Stollar

Written by: Hadleigh Stollar, former Programme Manager for Integrating Care at NHS Digital and now Customer Director for Graphnet Health

Image: Hadleigh Stollar.Some of the biggest challenge’s employers face with the NHS digitisation agenda are centred around cultural barriers to change. These can manifest themselves in many ways: resisting new technology due to fear of the unknown, for example, or deliberately blocking embedding technology into care pathways in order to avoid introducing new ways of working.

It is all too easy to focus on these cultural and organisational challenges and forget why we are working to implement digital solutions in the first place – the patient. The patient must be placed at the centre. When putting in shared care records and associated population health management tools, the conversation needs to extend beyond who can share what information with whom and address how and why that information needs to be shared.

I have been the former Programme Manager for Integrating Care at NHS Digital and now Customer Director for Graphnet Health and am delighted to be presenting my keynote address at the upcoming ‘Digitalisation Breakfast Symposium’, delivered by Skills for Health. Within this keynote address, I will discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by shared care records, their potential for empowering patients and giving care professionals the information and insights needed in the delivery of direct care. I will also cover the obstacles often faced in the delivery of digital technology into the frontline and explain why education at all levels is essential if the important benefits these technologies can bring are to be realised. I will explain how technology is just part of the solution, but not the whole solution…

What are the key questions to consider?

Process is and always will be based on so-called ‘service decommissioning’ - what is being decommissioned in order to embed the new technology into our service model?

Anyone who tells you that there is no need to replace the way pathways, systems and processes work post technology implementation is simply wrong. It is essential to embed a solution into the standard operating procedures and cultures of organisations, because not doing so results in a half-cooked service which is neither transformational nor operational.

Other important issues include:

  • Understanding how digitisation will impact on the NHS workforce, what it means for frontline organisations and their employees, and how will this be implemented into day-to-day operational activities  
  • What do employers need to do to take advantage of digital advancements for more effective workforce utilisation?
  • How do NHS Trusts need to educate the workforce to think differently about digital technology and its role in releasing time to care?
  • Considerations from the NHS long-term plan and ambitions in digitisation and adoption of digital solutions to enhance patient care and allow for a more efficient approach to care.

These are exciting times. Progress in the delivery of connected, integrated care enabled through digital technologies is picking up speed, and so too are the relationships between suppliers and the frontline, between NHS Trusts and their workforce and between decision makers and those responsible for delivering digital services. 

Over the past thirteen years, I have worked on many technology implementations – nationally, regionally, locally and in industry. What I have taken away from this experience is that technology must never be viewed as the solution to integrating care. It is an enabler, part of a jigsaw which requires many other pieces in order to create an effective system which can drive real change to the way care is delivered. Central to it all, of course, are the organisations and people working within them. Without well-educated and committed workforce, transformation will always be a struggle to achieve.

Register today for the upcoming symposium via the online book form.