News, Secondary Care

New digital strategy for Wales launched

A new policy and strategy document for Wales has been published to provide a direction and vision for the country to fully embrace digital.

The strategy outlines how the country will use digital, data and technology to improve the lives of people in Wales. It is aimed at anyone creating, designing, providing or using digital tools and services, hoping to focus change across Wales.

Following a crowdsourcing approach to gather the ideas and opinions of people across the nation, the Welsh Government has released its ‘digital vision’, a ‘delivery plan’ and six missions to support them.

The vision ‘improving the lives of everyone through collaboration, innovation and better public services’ aims to set out what the nation wants to achieve.

Supporting the case for change, the Welsh Government highlighted a Renal Service programme in South West Wales. The programme, a digital service delivered to kidney patients, includes e-prescribing, text reminders and patient access to their test results and treatment plans. Following a review of the programme, it’s believed to have saved time, money and improved patient outcomes.

Another case for change focused on a patient-controlled record. Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board recently conducted a pilot of a patient-controlled record with integration into the national data architecture. Using Patients Know Best, the scheme allows patients to message their clinical team for advice as well as access their secondary care information. The record includes blood test results and letters from hospitals to their GPs, which patients can add to.

One case for change focused on websites used across NHS Wales. The body commissioned user research and found a wide range of approaches and that the current websites were hard for users to navigate and find the information they needed. The data generated has been used to develop content and design standards for a national programme which will redevelop websites across NHS Wales.

Lee Waters, in a ministerial foreword, said: “Digital change isn’t just about technology, it’s about a change of culture. It’s about being open.  It’s about using data to solve problems. Instead of designing services from the viewpoint of what organisations think a citizen needs, a digital approach involves designing services that meet the needs of the end user.”

To support the vision, six missions have been defined:

The first mission focuses on ‘digital services’, highlighting the need to design public services around the needs of people, defining a common set of standards and recognising user centered design is essential. The strategy document states: “We need public service leaders who understand what is possible and how to achieve it, a workforce with the right skills, and people who are confident in digital ways of working. This will lead to delivery of better, more responsive public services.”

Mission two focuses on ‘digital inclusion’, aiming to equip people with the motivation, access, skills and confidence to engage with an increasingly digital world, based on their needs.

The third mission area is on ‘digital skills’, to create a workforce that has the digital skills, capability and confidence to excel in the workplace and in everyday life.

Mission four aims to drive economic prosperity and resilience by embracing and exploiting digital innovation, and mission five focuses on infrastructure to ensure services are supported in a fast and reliable way.

The final mission area focuses on ‘data and collaboration’, the strategy states: “We want to improve the services provided by working together and make sure that all data is used and shared effectively, has consistent standards, is protected and gets to where it needs to go.

“This can include the innovative use of data and data analytics to radically transform the way we deliver public services by delivering new insight. The ADR Wales Partnership has already shown what can be achieved by working together in using data for research. We will champion greater use of data linking and enhance data science capability in the public sector to transform how our information is used for public benefit.

“It also means the use of data driven innovation to support the adoption of greater automation and artificial intelligence solutions. We need to ensure this is done ethically and with integrity, but if done well can also help deliver savings, take away the burden of repetitive tasks and help people focus on where they can add most value.”

To view the Digital Strategy for Wales document, please click here.