There are over 200 NHS Trusts across the UK - each of which visibly displays passionate, dedicated, world-class staff, that go above and beyond to deliver vital services to patients. As a nation we are rightfully proud of our National Health Service and the work it carries out day-in, day-out.
Yet, even such a vital and necessary service has significant challenges to address.
Based on its 70-year heritage, it still has several disconnected and siloed IT systems that can make even simpler tasks, such as patient documentation, a struggle. If you imagine a patient moving geographies - and therefore changing NHS Trusts - their patient record might have to transfer across several different IT systems. It might even need transcribing from handwritten notes onto the new digital system.
The Health Secretary has tasked the NHS with going paperless by the end of this year – but doing so will require a more united, integrated IT back-office that enables seamless communications between apps and systems. With some Trusts running over 40 different IT systems, bridging the gaps between each of these marks a significant challenge. Add to this the demand from citizens for an improved digital experience – and the introduction of the likes of NHS Direct and NHS Digital over the last decade or so – and leaders certainly have their work cut out to deliver consistent services.
That said, the introduction of digitally-enabled services - from online patient records to video consultations, through apps such as Skype - there are pockets of innovation occurring across the NHS. But for these micro changes to result in macro impact, "will require bold leadership".
It will also require technology partners that can help IT leaders gain a true, real-time grasp on their IT infrastructure, to ensure applications, systems and services are being utilised efficiently. Doing so will enable the redistribution of efforts for improved hosting, protection, distribution and analysis of patient data - all of which should combine to improve services. Leveraging platforms, such as CenturyLink's cloud application manager, will help IT leaders decipher what apps and systems are useful, which ones are superfluous and how each one is adding value to patients.
Doing this will immediately see costs cut, and business benefits. But it shouldn't stop there.
Once they've achieved this improved IT efficiency, the next challenge will be to establish a platform for rolling out such productivity gains across NHS Trusts and more widely. With councils leading the way in terms of collaboration and shared services, there is an opportunity for the NHS to learn from such progressive thinking. While another national pledge to unite all NHS systems country-wide might not be the answer (we've all seen how difficult these can be to implement), deeper collaboration between Trusts can only lead to improved information-sharing, increased productivity and better patient services all round.
Get in touch with us here to find out how CenturyLink can help you on your own digital transformation journey.