East looks to digital innovation to transform health and social care

8th March 2017

The pressure to find new ways of working continues, not just to meet the financial challenges facing the sector but also to deliver more effective services which better meet the needs of users and communities. Digital and networked technologies can provide part of the solution.

Although innovations across science and technology over the past century have radically increased life expectancy, technology has not yet delivered its full potential in this arena. 

Harnessing the power of the digital revolution is key to meeting the challenges ahead and in delivering high-quality sustainable health and care services.  It has already transformed the standard, cost and accessibility of many other industries and there is a need for this kind of systemic change through innovations to meet the needs of future health and care services. 

The public sector are starting to grasp the opportunities this brings and are coming together to explore options and find better – and faster – ways to connect with the public and deliver services.  But there are still opportunities to strengthen our ambition.

The East of England LGA has been supporting its members and their partners to explore these opportunities both locally and regionally.

On 24 February leaders from the Suffolk Health and Social care system came together to explore the opportunities which digital technology can bring to build on the ever-growing collaboration across health and care systems in Suffolk.

The event, which was supported by the East of England LGA, included inputs from leading national figures, including Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of Turning Point and the NHS England Board, local contributions and showcases of existing and emerging practice across the UK and beyond.

The key question for the day was raised by Will Smart, NHS England who asked ‘Why are we digitising?’  The answer: To improve care to make it better for clinicians and other frontline professionals and better for patients and the public.

Common themes from the day included:

  • Digital is about citizens taking control of their own healthcare and promoting independence – an issue raised by nearly every speaker.
  • We need a digitally literate workforce with digital innovators at all levels of an organisation.  However, digital ambition requires strong digital leadership from the top.
  • Digital must be an integrated part of the business strategy.
  • Digital and technological innovation is about creating more staff time to care
  • Systems need to be better connected to enable a holistic view of patients and better use of data.

Building on this momentum, on the 7 March Health Integration leads from across the East of England came together at their quarterly event to review opportunities and barriers to digital innovation as an enabler of integration and wider system transformation, and to share learning and practice from across the region.

The event was supported by a research report, commissioned by the East of England LGA, to bring together national and local examples and research into how to we might grasp the opportunities this agenda brings to health, social care and housing integration. The report will be published shortly and will be available at http://www.eelga.gov.uk/innovation-programme/health-integration-resources.aspx.

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