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Digital Transformation Demystified: U.K. NHS Case Study

Level 13

By Omar Rafik, SolarWinds Senior Manager, Federal Sales Engineering

Here’s an interesting article from my colleague Sascha Giese on strategies for digital transformation in the public sector. Our government customers here in the states have similar challenges and should benefit from the discussion.

For an organization like the NHS, digital transformation can present challenges, but the need for faster service delivery, cost management efficiency, and improvements to patient care make the adoption of technology a strategic priority.

Digital transformation refers to a business restructuring its systems and infrastructure to avoid a potential tipping point caused by older technologies and downward market influences. This transformation can also be disrupting, as it affects nearly every aspect of the organization.

For an organization like the U.K. NHS, this can present more challenges than for private-sector businesses.

Outdated infrastructure often struggles to keep up with the amount and type of data being produced, and with the volume of data the NHS processes now being supplemented by data coming in from private healthcare providers as well, the technology deployed could fall further behind. There are also growing concerns regarding management and security of this data.

Because of this, the NHS is in the perfect position to benefit from implementing a digital transformation strategy. No matter how small, starting now could help keep doctors away from paperwork and closer to their patients, which, at the end of the day, is what really matters.

For the NHS to reap the benefits of digital transformation, it’s important for IT decision makers to consider emerging technologies, such as cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analytics.

Without the knowledge of how and why digital transformation can benefit the NHS, it is understandable that a recent survey from SolarWinds, conducted by iGov, found that nearly one in five NHS trusts surveyed have no digital transformation strategy, and a further 24% have only just started one.

Being aware is the first hurdle to overcome, and the NHS is already on its way to conquering it.

Getting to grips with new technology is always going to be a challenge, and even more so for those handling some of the U.K.’s most-critical data—that of our health and wellbeing—so acknowledging that legacy technology is holding the NHS back means they’re best placed to start implementing these changes.

Next, IT leaders should consider implementing a transformation strategy that supports these goals. Enlisting the right people from within the organization with expertise that can guide the process and implementing the best tools can help enable visibility and management throughout the whole process. Some methods to think about executing first include:

  • Simplifying current IT: Complexity often leads to mistakes, longer processes, and increased costs across the board.
  • Keeping IT flexible: Hybrid environments are the norm for many agencies. NHS trusts should consider technology that enables the use of private, public, or hybrid cloud, where data, workloads, and applications can be moved from one platform to another with a simple click.
  • Maintaining IT resilience: Trusts that need to run 24/7 should use systems that ensure both data availability and data protection.
  • Creating a transformational culture: Changing the culture starts at the top; if trust leaders are unwilling to consider change, it’s likely that their subordinates are also resistant.

With the right preparation and tools in place, the journey to digital transformation can be a positive experience for improving NHS IT solutions and can yield impressive results.

The healthcare industry can benefit greatly from implementing transformation strategies, so the sooner these can be integrated, the quicker we can see improvements across the board.

Find the full article on Building Better Healthcare.

The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

7 Comments
Level 14

Thanks for the article!

My wife earned a Master's Degree in Business Administration on this very topic in 2004.  The electronic medical health record (EMHR or EHR) represented a big challenge to some of the staff and patients in our hospital system, and she was part of the group introducing it and helping to make it work.

It was surprising to see the technophiles (early adopters, computer-savvy, ready to push the envelope to improve patient care) and the technophobes (pushing back against change, rejecting technology due to poor training or personal technical skill sets, wanting to believe patient care was sufficient with hand-written charts and what comes through a stethoscope and a sphygmomanometer).  Both groups were powerful advocates for their views.

Fifteen years later the EHR is a standard everywhere, and health care providers and patients are pushing for even more technology, unwilling to go backward, incredulous that anyone could survive without computerized data shared between patients, providers, specialists, and insurers.

Level 13

In the last year I've had a hands on comparison between providers that have been pretty progressive in digitization of health records and what's it's like to deal with someone who is a bit behind the curve. From a patient perspective having access to digital records is transformative and helps the patient (provided they are reasonably tech saavy) do a much better job of managing their own health care both from a medical perspective and also from a payment perspective.  The only downside I've seen is that sometimes the electronic records get released before you hear from the Doctor, and depending on what you're dealing with that could be a shock if the news is not positive.  It's been a tremendous improvement over what we used to have to do shuffling paper records around and things getting lost in the system.

Level 13

Thanks for the article

Level 11

thanks for the article

Level 16

Thanks for the write up.

Level 20

cool stuff... the UK taking the lead!