Digital transformation in health and care

On 29 June, Sajid Javid, the former secretary of state for health and social care, launched a plan for digital health and social care, which has been published by the Department of Health and Social Care.

In this blog, CSP health informatics lead Euan McComiskie provides an overview of the new plan, its implications and how it links in with CSP’s own physiotherapy health informatics strategy.

by euanmccomiskie

Digital innovation

In his presentation, Sajid Javid confirmed that digital is of huge importance to the health and social care sector and transformation in this area is critical to modernising services.

He acknowledged that health and social care is currently following an unsustainable path and that it cannot continue like this, repeating a previous statement likening the NHS as “Blockbuster in the Netflix age”.

He believes that digital transformation is the engine that will spearhead the change needed so we can better meet the public expectation, using the momentum gained in digital from the pandemic as the start of a new era and not one that will be viewed as a historical quirk in the status quo.

The full plan can be viewed here but within the plan are four goals of reform for health and care in England:

  1. equipping the system digitally for better care
  2. supporting independent healthy lives
  3. accelerating adoption of proven tech
  4. aligning oversight with accelerating digital transformation

Amongst the announcements are £2 billion of funding to digitise healthcare with at least £150m investment in digital infrastructure, and further investment in the NHS App.

The focus on data is in line with soon to be published guidance from the data and evidence group of the Community Rehabilitation Alliance.

Mr Javid outlined his expectation that the NHS App will become a front door for access to the health service in the coming years with more functionality to be added each month, including video consultations by 2024. This is in line with the recently published CSP guidance on use of remote consultations in physiotherapy.

There was also a recognition that digital maturity is uneven across regions and sectors with health and social care. Mr Javid highlighted the need to 'lift up and level up' digital infrastructure to support those working in and those receiving health and social care to make the most of the services available to them.

To support this improvement in digital skills will require change to the academic curricula and an increase in the priority that ICSs and wider NHS oversight arrangements place on digital. It will also result in an increase of 10, 500 additional jobs working in digital, data and technology by 2030. This is in line with ongoing work at the CSP around a review of the physiotherapy curriculum and career frameworks.

The CSP welcomes the presentation by the secretary of state and the policy lead from Westminster on the importance of digital. For several years, CSP members have been working to imbed digital to improve the services they offer, improve the working lives of clinical teams and to give patients the best chance of positive health outcomes.

We hope that this policy lead will give financial support to make these changes happen faster and also the policy backing to include digital amongst the top priorities for healthcare organisations.

Later this year, the CSP will publish a Physiotherapy Health Informatics Strategy (PHIS). The PHIS has been developed by the CSP team following an international systematic literature review and with the support of an advisory group of members, some of whom from the CSP Digital and Informatics Physiotherapy Group (DIPG).

We are pleased to see that the focuses from the DHSC plan are already present as domains within the PHIS and look forward to sharing that with CSP members in the coming months.

We expect the PHIS to support all members of the physiotherapy profession, regardless of career stage, specialty, and employment sector, to support them in using informatics as part of their physiotherapy offer.

It will be supported by learning resources and showcase some member of the profession already doing great things in the informatics space. You will see more information on the PHIS in the coming months through Frontline, the CSP website and the CSP social media channels.

Euan McComiskie (@EMAHPInfo)

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