News, Secondary Care

NHSX launches Tech Plan call for engagement

Phase four looks at the delivery plan up until 2024, and what might need to be developed and phase five focuses on measuring success.

A vision document has also been published today which states “Our Tech Plan needs to be informed and co-produced by those on the front line, who are already bringing together people, technology and infrastructure to transform health and care. Over the next few months we will use this website to collaborate with you on the Tech Plan.”  The website can be accessed here. 

The document repeats information published through 2019, including its missions in June 2019 but highlights where the industry is now and what is believed needs to happen to ensure all providers are digitised by 2024.

“The NHS could become a truly data-driven system, in which everyone is treated as an individual, given the tools to stay healthy and drive their own care when they need it; every clinician is able to operate at the top of their licence, with the time they need to care for patients and ​people; and the system ​can constantly optimise the care it gives through data, analytics and research.”

“In social care, better use of technology and data has the potential to support people to live in their own homes for longer, enabling providers to deliver better, smarter care, and local authorities to plan and commission services more efficiently.”

However there is a need for ‘decent hardware’ and ‘adequate networks’ the document highlighted.

What is needed to get there

  • Clarity about who is responsible for paying for what. Providers need to know their obligations, and where they can expect help from the centre. We will set this out as one of the elements of the Tech Plan.
  • Sufficient spending on tech. ​As set out in the NHS Operational and Planning Guidance, NHSX will be engaging with systems and providers to determine if there is a minimum or optimum level of technology revenue spend, linked to the digital maturity standards that are under development.
  • Targeted funding from the centre. We recognise that many providers will struggle to generate the scale of funding required to digitise themselves. The digital aspirant programme will be the next chapter in how the centre helps them over this step, building on the Global Digital Exemplar programme that showed what was possible.
  • Support from the centre: including in procurement and deployment.

The document stated “The only way that tech can work in a system as huge as the NHS (which has a bigger GDP than Hungary) is for the centre to set clear, open standards, and enforce them. Local providers can make their own choices, and as long as what they do and buy is compliant with the standards then everything will slot together and systems will be able to communicate.”

Support from the centre

  • Establishing a model of ​What Good Looks Like​, with clear criteria for different sorts of providers that leaders can use. These criteria will be co-created with colleagues across the NHS as part of the building the Tech Plan, and will feed into the NHS’s improvement methodology and CQC inspections.
  • Who should pay for what​, so that providers are clear about what they need to make provision for, and where they can look to the centre for support. We will be working with finance colleagues across NHSE/I and DHSC to provide as stable and early a view of central funding as possible.
  • We need to do a much better job of ​sharing best practice​. The GDE Blueprints have been successful, and are well used across the NHS. We will expand their range to include advice for clinicians and leaders as well as technical guidance. And we will set up other mechanisms for identifying who is doing what, and how we can learn from both successes and failures.
  • We will establish better ways of providing ​support for the frontline​. We should not expect every provider in the NHS to maintain the expertise they need to do major digital transformation in-house. So we need to work out how we can help fill the gaps, and in a way that feels supportive rather than overwhelming or bossy. This will mean aligning the support on the tech and data side with the support coming from other parts of the centre. We will explore different options for doing this in the coming months, as part of the Tech Plan process.
  • We will establish a ​less onerous way of providing oversight​ on centrally-funded programmes. We have started down this route already with the Digital Exemplar funding for 19/20, producing a much shorter form, ten rather than over a hundred conditions, and light-touch quarterly check-ins rather than burdensome monthly reporting. This is on the basis of presumed

NHSX also confirmed it will set-up a small commercial function to support relationships between providers and tech vendors. It said “we will ensure we are collectively managing our relationships with the key vendors, look at what should be negotiated nationally, and where local negotiations make sense make sure that providers have the information and functionality they need.”