For those responsible for mapping out and delivering business strategies in the NHS, understanding how technology and digital solutions can help deliver high quality services while meeting key business and financial objectives is an essential part of ensuring the future health of their organisation.

In recent years both the Department of Health and NHS England have stressed the importance of using technology and digital strategies to meet the rising health needs of citizens with a series of investments and commitments.

As made clear in the Five Year Forward View, incorporating technology and digital processes can help establish appropriate systems and processes to ensure effective operational delivery to meet patient needs, and create robust performance management reporting arrangements to demonstrate Key Performance Indicators are met.

This article will explore some of the key proposed strategies in the Five Year Forward View, and how digital technology can be a core component to helping the NHS transform.

Exploiting the information revolution

Like many public sector organisations, the NHS has yet to fully capitalize on and benefit from the opportunities presented by effective use of data and internet enabled systems.

According to the Five Year Forward View, 86% of adults in Britain use the internet. However, only 2% use it to contact their GP. Promoting online services is a simple way of reducing wait times and cost as well as streamlining the treatment process.

Consequently, the View sets out plans to introduce greater online access with NHS accredited apps, online appointment systems and greater data storing and sharing platforms.

For a director of strategy, therefore, understanding how to utilise existing data sources and technology to improve the performance for health organisations could help transform the delivery of care services.

A great example of a Trust effectively leveraging technology and data to reduce treatment time in their renal department is East Kent Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust developed a Cloud-first app that sends immediate alerts to key staff of a patient event while also providing a care management trail so the consultant or doctor is able to track who has treated the patient and ensure that they are directed to the best possible specialist care.

“The earlier identification of those sick patients has led to earlier treatment, allowing them to have a prompt effective treatment in a timely manner”, says Allyson Wren, Clinical Application Lead – Vital PAC East Kent Hospitals University NHS.

To find out more about how East Kent Hospitals University NHS were able to leverage technology and data to improve the delivery of Renal services, click here.

Accelerating useful health innovation

Across the health sector research has proven vital to providing evidence and learning from data to improve operational efficiencies and outcomes for patients, and research will continue to play a significant role in the NHS.

According to the Five Year Forward View: “The NHS will become one of the best places in the world to test innovations that require staff, technology and funding all to align in a health system, with universal coverage serving a large and diverse population.”

As research continues to develop, however, so too does the data.

Using data analytics and technology that can model and predict outcomes based on historical data could help the people developing strategies find trends and solutions that could help deliver against the core KPI’s of their organisation.

For example, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention 5.1. million suffer from heart failure. 25% of these patients are readmitted within 3 months, and 50% are readmitted in 6 months to a cost of $26 Billion.

The University of Washington, in partnership with Microsoft Research, have developed a tool based on Machine Learning which can help avoid early readmission rates through building a ‘risk of readmission score’ to inform whether a patient is discharged too early.

To find out more about how the University of Washington are able to improve operational efficiency using data analytics please click here.

Drive efficiency and productive investment

With the NHS’ aim to achieve 2% net efficiency gains each year for the rest of the decade, health organisations are having to find ways to cope with rising demands while at the same time reducing cost and streamlining services.

One way in which the NHS is able to reduce the growing pressures of delivering primary and secondary care services in England is through proactive prevention through education and social care.

The NHS Choices programme is a great example of the impact of preventative care through using online services.

In January 2015, NHS Choices alone reached an all-time-high figure of 52 million monthly visits (up from 43 million in January 2014). Features such as the Symptoms Checker are helping better inform and prevent patients going to GP’s to seek informational guidance on treatment and appropriate care action plans.

To find out more about the NHS Choices use of cloud services to provide preventive care services, please click here.

What next?

Many NHS and health care organisations are reaping the benefits of leveraging Microsoft technology to help deliver against key business and financial objectives.

Find out more about health and the Cloud