Public sector healthcare has faced some unprecedented challenges in recent years, ranging from constraints on funding to escalating demands for services – all of which are putting strain on one of the UK’s most significant resources.
In order to sustain and improve its position change is needed, and some of this change lies heavily in innovation and digitalisation.
This year, the National Health Service (NHS) celebrated 70 years of service. Over that time, the digital landscape of the world has rapidly changed, and as a crucial institution in the UK, the NHS needs to follow suit. So, just how is public sector healthcare responding to the technological revolution?
A vast number of public sector organisations are working with out-dated systems that are in desperate need of replacement. Digital transformation requires changes, to both processes and IT systems, and this is far harder for the public sector when compared to the private. A joint study by management consultancy firm McKinsey and Oxford University found that public sector IT projects requiring business change were six times more likely to experience cost overruns and 20% more likely to run over schedule, when compared with private sector projects.
In 2016, cyber security was a priority for just 23% of NHS IT leaders. But in the 2017 survey, which was carried out before the cyber attack incident mentioned, it was identified as a priority by 66% of respondents.
Digital transformation in the public health sector is undoubtedly a large-scale job. Last year, the NHS was criticised for its reliance on out-dated computer systems, which are more vulnerable to hacking. One in 20 NHS devices were said to be running on Microsoft XP – an operating system that is 17 years old – and were not being serviced by the company.With the NHS aiming to be paperless by 2020, better use of technology can give patients more control over their health and wellbeing, reduce the administrative burden and support the development of new medicines and treatments.
The NHS hit the headlines when falling victim to a cyber attack last year, leading to the cancellation of appointments and operations, potentially putting life in jeopardy. So, unsurprisingly, security is a top priority in its digital strategy.
Patients need to have confidence that their personal data is being handled safely and securely, and the public health service needs to invest in security to manage new and evolving threats. This is critical to building and sustaining public trust.
Power to the people
As part of its digital direction, the patient will be the key piece of the puzzle in NHS services, according to its digital director. The public demand for digital services is ever increasing and there is evidence of a growing demand in healthcare. By 2020 there will be a significant upsurge in the number of over-65s who have smartphones and access to broadband, and healthcare will be top of their priorities.
As a result, a growing number of older people will have access to technology and data services wherever they go, and will expect healthcare services to be easily managed through this technology. They want public sector information to be readily available online, easy to find and easy to understand.The whole idea behind digital advancement is to simplify normal, everyday tasks, such as booking and managing appointments, which in turn will increase efficiency and satisfaction.
For the public health sector it can:
- Make access to urgent care online easy
• Simplify and improve the online appointment booking process
• Ensure patients’ medical information is available to the right practitioners, no matter where they are
• Increase the use of apps to help patients manage their own health
A study for NHS England suggested that digital investments deployed as part of transformational change could deliver significant savings – contributing to short-term savings and, in the longer term, to the sustainability of services.
Correct application of technology and data is a prerequisite for supporting and enabling the key changes needed to remodel the healthcare system.
SCC has several high profile NHS and private healthcare organisations as long standing strategic partners. We have together delivered large and hugely complex transformational projects that utilise our extensive healthcare vertical knowledge and mature business capabilities.
Kat Cooke is Senior Content Writer at SCC. She was previously Senior Journalist at the Aesthetics journal, and has worked for Sky News, providing live coverage of the last two General Elections and the EU Referendum. Kat has a 2:1 degree in Journalism from City University London.