Last week we saw the latest update from Jeremy Hunt on the drive for a digital NHS, with it came a sneak preview of where we can expect funds to be allocated, and just how much investment is to be made.
Full details of the funding are still being agreed between the Department of Health and NHS England, but they are expected to include:
- £1.8bn to create a paper-free NHS and remove outdated technology like fax machines
- £1bn on cyber security and data consent
- £750m to transform out-of-hospital care, medicines and digitise social care and emergency care
- About £400m to build a new website – nhs.uk – develop apps and provide free Wi-Fi
The latest announcement has been met with mixed opinions, with some hailing it as a turning point to create a modern, simplified, cost effective health service, and others dismissing the promise of funding as a mere political gimmick.
Of course, as we know, our perspective on events reported in the media can be massively influenced by the content detailed in a particular article, and from the stories I’ve read so far, it seems the generalised mass communication we are receiving is missing a couple of key points.
Firstly, the idea of digital healthcare is one that has been with us for a while and the majority of us are already benefiting from the digital revolution, there are many trusts across the country that have been utilising technology to provide health services for some time.
Secondly, the availability of funding from NHS England in order to further the adoption of a digital NHS is nothing new, unfortunately the work undertaken by the Digital Technology Team at NHS England to drive this digital revolution, turning the vision into a reality, is something that is rarely thrust into the limelight.
Ultimately, it would be a shame to lose sight of the potential this recent announcement holds.
Imerja have been paving the way with healthcare technology for some years now, and as such we have worked with several NHS trusts to assist in securing funding from NHS England, from the likes of their Nursing Tech Fund and the Challenge Prize Fund. This has enabled us to see, first hand, how funding to enable the utilisation of new technologies has already produced outstanding results, both in cost savings and the quality of treatment dispensed.
I regularly speak to many NHS Departments throughout the country who are keen to explore and exploit digital care; in fact many already have a vision of how they would like to employ technology within their Trust, but the common barrier most seem to face is how to actually implement a solution and navigate the logistics and complexities behind it; add to this the ever increasing choice of suppliers and distributors, and it comes as no surprise.
Set aside the political agenda, the past failings and the apprehension of embracing something new; and let’s start to explore the possibilities. Engage with an organisation that has experience in assisting Trusts to obtaining the correct funding, an organisation that has a proven track record in making the vision a reality, and most importantly an organisation that has proven that technology, when correctly adopted, can be the future of our NHS.
Let’s look beyond the headlines and media communications; and let’s start to have a conversation about how you see your Trust of the future. Share with us your vision and allow us to make it reality.