The year-end countdown: Making the most of your NHS budget to advance digital transformation
As we approach a new financial year, organisations across multiple sectors are busy poring over spreadsheets, analysing their spending, evaluating its effectiveness, and considering whether any major purchases should be pushed through before the end of March.
The healthcare sector is no different. With budgets due to expire next month, now is a prime time to review what improvements are on the cusp of completion and to consider whether additional investments before the close of the financial year could help you achieve the visions of digital transformation in the NHS.
Investment in digital transformation: the plan
It is now over a year since the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan, which set out the organisation’s ambitions for improvement over the coming decade and in particular underpinning the importance of technology for powering the future of the NHS. It sets out a vision for the next decade of the NHS’s life, identifying the critical priorities that will support digital transformation and provide a step change in the way the NHS cares for citizens.
In particular, chapter 5 explores how ‘digitally-enabled care will go mainstream across the NHS’. It highlights the Electronic Prescription service (EPS) now being used in 93% of England’s GP practices, the Global Digital Exemplar programme which has supported 16 acute, seven mental health and three ambulance trusts, and the national rollout of the NHS app.
However, it also underlines that the ‘wholesale transformation of the NHS that patients have a right to expect’ has still not come to fruition, and that technology will play a vital role in achieving this vision. Reductions in bureaucracy and granting patients more control over the care they receive are both highlighted as critical.
Are there specific areas in which NHS Trusts and healthcare organisations should be looking at directing their spending before the end of the financial year, in order to enable this kind of transformation?
Investment in digital transformation: the reality
It is easy to think of digital transformation – in any context – as being all about fantastical tools and new-age apps. However, sometimes the most transformative technology is far closer to home.
Over the last twelve months the demand and enquiries for patient self-service kiosks has increased significantly. These interactive digital touchscreens allow patients to carry out tasks such as appointment check-ins or requesting repeat prescriptions themselves, without requiring assistance. In other words, they enable precisely the kind of patient control and independence set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. Similarly, touchscreens and kiosks can be incredibly powerful on the clinical side, by providing more streamlined and efficient means of healthcare practitioners entering and accessing key information.
Ultimately, such tools have a dramatic effect on the efficiency of day-to-day operations in healthcare organisations, as well as the efficiency of information-sharing and the accuracy of data entry. In other words, they drive precisely the benefits that digital transformation is all about.
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