In Conversation with Matthew Gould
Matthew outlined that 2021 had been another year of sharp progress in digital transformation, with NHSX making considerable progress in its three core aims:
- Digitise: The Digital Aspirant Programme has taken on real momentum and continues to progress. You can watch the recording of our event in November with NHSX and NHS Digital where we heard more about this programme.
- Connect: NHSX published the Draft Data Strategy and continued to expand the Shared Care Record programme, taking England from 60% coverage to over 90%.
- Transform: NHSX have seen a massive stepping up of digital home monitoring, which is now core part of the NHS approach, and the successful delivery of the Covid Pass, with 22 million now on the NHS app and more with an NHS login. Matthew highlighted the potential of this as a vehicle to continue to drive transformation.
In addition to these three pillars, NHSX published What Good Looks Like and launched the Who Pays for What consultation, aiming to bring clarity around what exactly local trust CEOs need to carve out of their own budget. Digital and data have also been placed at heart of Integrated Care System (ICS) guidance around what it means to be an effective ICS, and the latest NHS planning guidance has digital and data running through it very clearly.
Matthew highlighted that in sum, 2021 was a year in which we collectively made huge progress and, more importantly, shifted attitudes. This was evident in the job description for the new CEO of the NHS, which mentioned digital transformation in the first line.
Andreas and Matthew went on to discuss the formation of the Transformation Directorate, which will bring together NHS Digital and NHSX with NHS England, as well as retiring both former brands. Matthew outlined his hopes for this change, stating that it should mean that digital is no longer able to be seen as something to be left to experts but part of core business. Going forward, we should see less digital in its own silo and more digital being part of an integrated plan.
The two also discussed what the next steps were to enable the NHS to unleash the full power of data, touching on the importance of recognition from senior management that data is necessary to get the allocation of resources right and to adopt an effective approach to population health. This message has profoundly landed over past two years, and we now need to get the tech and information governance right, as well as to make sure the public have absolute confidence in our handling of their data.
Matthew was asked what the digital health industry can expect from the Transformation Directorate in terms of creating an environment where the tech industry can thrive. Responding first by acknowledging the improvements made over the last two years and the willingness to engage with and listen to industry, Matthew stated that this approach should now be turbocharged. As we are now in a world where digital and clinical are not separate, the NHS’s ability to leverage digital tech to achieve better health and care is going to be greater than ever. He outlined that the challenge for the new directorate would be to take the best bits of previous practice and make sure this continues.
Among other topics, Matthew was asked about plans for an open catalogue of standards, digital investment in mental health, and the role of digital in clearing the elective care backlog.
techUK and the Health & Social Care Council look forward to working with the Transformation Directorate throughout 2022, building on our record of successful collaboration between industry and NHS.