Jason Gordon

Tech, innovation and culture in today’s NHS

Let’s improve patient outcomes, patient experience and make the lives of NHS staff easier - together.

Health services are developing. They’re transforming. And patient expectations are changing.

Latest figures released by Roche suggest that more than half of 16-24 year olds would actually prefer to receive GP advice online or via an app - than face to face. In today’s digital world, patients would rather interact with the NHS the same way they do with their bank. If we think back 10 years ago - could this ever have been predicted? Would you rather interact with a health professional for convenience? 

As touched on by Matt Hancock at NHS Expo 2018 which helped celebrate its 70th year, now is the time to embrace digital technology, back innovations and ultimately improve the NHS. If society is changing, why can’t the NHS - and it’s systems.   

During the event many discussions centred around working together, interoperability, sharing a common vision - and ultimately building trust internally that IT can be a force for good - and most importantly, it won’t replace staff jobs. 

But interestingly, we discovered that 90% of the challenge of digital transformation is culture and only 10% is from the tech itself. So why is this? 

When we think about culture in society, and in the NHS institution itself, there are a few factors that can play a major role, and slow down the digital process. 

Health literacy being one. 

We recently spoke with renowned public health expert Prof Don Nutbeam and he voiced concerns over health literacy and the widening digital gap. To learn more - I’ve linked to his video here. 

In our opinion, to lead the way in transforming the digital NHS landscape, further support needs to be available to those who struggle most with health literacy - as stats show that it will be these people that will rely heavily on NHS services. We can’t risk leaving anyone behind. This could be a tricky balancing act between creating services that suit those who would like to interact with the NHS like a bank - as opposed to those unable to access services online at all. 

We explored some of the following topics in our conversations throughout the two days at our stand. To change the culture, we need to consider that:

  • access to individual records may be scary or overwhelming, if it is not written in plain english
  • physical access may not even be possible  - if they do not have the support in which to use a computer or navigate the health online system
  • literacy or language challenges may be blockers to understand what is being offered by their health provider  

Culture, digital access and health literacy are only some of the obstacles that we’re going to have to resolve in the next couple of years - within the NHS, and in society as a whole. 

But tech and it’s innovation is there to make a difference. It can transform processes, speed up referrals, connect all of health departments to streamline services. But evidently - the NHS has already transitioned itself in the past 70 years to still be one of the most crucial institutions of our time, and we’re still on that journey to ensure that it remains that one support that we all rely on. 


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