Digital transformation is absolutely at the heart of what we do. We believe in a joined-up, system-wide approach to embracing the opportunities and tackling the challenges around transforming healthcare with digital enablers. From supporting remote monitoring to improving the flow of information, digital tools have the power to transform the way health and care are delivered. Digital technologies are integral to many of the changes envisaged in the NHS long-term plan. Making a reality of these ambitions will require a stronger emphasis on engaging and upskilling the people expected to use digital technologies at all levels in the NHS, particularly clinicians.

There has been an exponential rise in recognition of the huge potential that digital tools and services offer to transform health and care services. We work from the ground up to support NHS digital strategy by embedding ourselves in local systems, working with local, regional, and national teams to support the delivery of solid foundations on which the digital future can be built. We continuously help our systems to ‘join the dots’ – connecting like-minded digital evangelists, supporting the sharing of knowledge and experience, and promoting innovation opportunities with service transformation needs.

The scale and pace of digital transformation and the opportunities it offers can be bewildering. Our work centres on helping member systems to fully understand the problems they are seeking to address and supporting the identification of the most appropriate digital innovations to meet these needs. In parallel we develop collaboration and knowledge sharing opportunities to support effective and efficient implementation of chosen solutions, together with evaluation mechanisms to underpin further adoption and spread. A recent example of this would be the implementation of an Advice and Guidance system in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCG., supported by colleagues from Gloucester CCG, a collaboration we initiated and fostered.

The response to the Covid pandemic has seen an unprecedented rise in both the appetite for and adoption of digital health technologies that support new ways of delivering healthcare services, especially where physical contact is not possible or where there is a priority need to deliver care outside of hospital, including in people’s homes. The approach to using digital tools and services is undergoing a seismic shift across all our systems. Throughout the pandemic we have been the link between the NHS regional team and representatives in our local Integrated Care Systems’ (ICS).

By providing practical support to articulate local priorities to innovators, we help speed up the introduction and subsequent spread and adoption of impactful digital enablers, accelerating opportunities for SMEs and industry to support digital healthcare of the future. One example of this would be our work supporting the improvement of remote monitoring of residents in care homes.  Another example is the support we provided to trial of a telehealth application across care homes with residents with Learning Disabilities in Gloucestershire.

We coordinate the West of England network of Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIOs),  Clinical Information Officers (CIOs) and Clinical Safety Officers (CSOs) and use these connections to rapidly share learning and expertise across the region, creating an environment for productive collaboration and sharing of effective solutions. We are also working with HEE to deliver a South West region Informatics Skills Development Network  to support the development of our workforce, not just technical but also our key operational and clinical stakeholders who are the driving force behind digitally enabled system transformation.

We also actively horizon scan and seek out best practice and new approaches that could support our local systems. One example is our work promoting the possibilities of Robotic Process Automation another is our support for a deep dive into how the South West Ambulance Service access patient information.

To discover more of the Digital transformation programme has achieved,  take a look at our Impact Review for 2020-21

If you would like to find out more about the NHSX Innovation Collaborative, in which AHSNs have played a leading role in supporting the adoption and spread of remote monitoring capabilities across member systems and the sharing of learning to support then take a look at this guide to digital knowledge resources.