28 Jun 2021

Virgin Media Business: Public services of the future – What will the industry look like?

The public sector is known to be stereotypically slow when it comes to embracing innovation. But the pandemic has been the catalyst to drive drastic change. Meeting the evolving citizen and staff needs has remained the priority. Instant adaptation has been crucial to this. 

Cutting-edge digital technologies have provided the answer to many of the challenges faced. From cloud solutions to data management systems, technology has allowed vital public services, such as local government and healthcare, to scale and adapt operations regardless of increasing demand and shifting work environments. This allows them to support their communities throughout the pandemic. But public sector organisations cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal. Continued digital investment is crucial to unlocking long-term prosperity for the sector, revolutionising outcomes for us all. 
Our study with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) revealed that continued digital investment in the private and public sector will boost the UK economy by £232bn. This will benefit communities, help tackle digital inequality, and revolutionise outcomes for organisations across the UK. 

Public sector leaders must prioritise investment in innovative technologies, which when supported by connectivity and the right network infrastructure, will boost the performance of crucial services, including healthcare. Doing so will drastically change outcomes for individuals and whole communities across the UK for generations to come.  

Technology improving local communities 

At a local government level, digitisation has meant public services could keep running sufficiently. Alongside this, new and innovative processes were adopted in an effort to improve efficiency, reduce administration and prioritise support for vulnerable communities. And the results have been outstanding. 

Wolverhampton City Council used digital technologies to support local businesses hit hard by the national lockdowns. Its Retail Revival Programme combined pop-up shops with online sales support and digital skills training to generate more than £7 million in sales for local businesses. 

Edinburgh City Council was able to automate its landlord applications process, completely transforming operations. 80% of applications were completed within three hours, rather than the pre-Covid processing period of three weeks. This allowed staff to focus on other areas that require empathy and human judgement – improving overall service across the board.  

Local communities are recognising the efforts being made. According to Survation, 79% have been impressed by their council’s response to Covid-19. More local authorities will follow their lead as we continue to see these impressive outcomes.  

And the benefits brought by digital investment don’t end there, they will also unlock greater advantages for wider services, including healthcare.    

An efficient and accessible healthcare system for everyone 

Covid-19 has placed greater strain on our healthcare system than ever before. To cope with this, digital transformation has been a must.  

This has not only helped the healthcare industry survive, it’s also helped it to evolve. Numerous services have been vastly improved by digital transformation. Virtual healthcare is a prominent example of this. 

More and more patients are seeing doctors without having to meet face to face. Richmond Wellbeing Service, part of the East London NHS Foundation Trust, have repurposed its smaller clinical spaces as digital pods. Patients can now come in, have a virtual consultation in the pod, and go. Digitally enhanced services have made consultations efficient and accessible, allowing more people to have treatment and benefit from it.  

And for many medical professionals there’s no going back. Professor Ben Wright, Associate Medical Director for Clinical Information, East London NHS Foundation Trust, predicts health systems will maintain a large proportion of the changes instituted over the last year. By embracing digital, our healthcare can continue to positively evolve, beyond the pandemic.  

Digital investment unlocking future public sector prosperity 

Public sector businesses can be proud of how they have adapted to the unique challenges they have faced this past year. Championing digital and driving innovation has allowed them to overcome increased demand and shift working environments, while also providing new opportunities for growth.  

By continuing to invest in digital technologies, public sector leaders can unlock a successful rebound post-pandemic. This will not only enhance public services, but deliver unparalleled advantages for local communities and citizens across the UK, contributing to the £232bn opportunity.   

Local authorities can further streamline administrative tasks and focus on supporting the members of society who need it most. Healthcare can push ahead and lead the way for digital innovation to improve and save lives. 

There’s a bright future ahead for our public services, but only if organisation leaders grasp the opportunity that is in front of us. 

This blog piece was written by Martin McFadyen, Head of Public Sector, Virgin Media Business. To know more about this author, please visit his LinkedIN page. 

To know more about Virgin Media Business, visit their Twitter and LinkedIN page.

To read more from #techUKPSInnovation Week check out our landing page here.

You can also follow the campaign on techUK's Twitter and LinkedIn - #techUKPSInnovation