Increasingly the West of England AHSN is playing an important role in supporting our member organisations to understand and take best advantage of the opportunities arising from the digital transformation of our health service.

The range of solutions available in the digital health world can seem daunting but healthcare economies have many common digital ambitions and similar challenges. Sharing knowledge and experience across areas is key to optimising the region’s ability to deliver effective, useable and safe digitally enabled care.

We continue to coordinate the West of England Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIO) Network, which now has 44 active members from across our healthcare community.

This network provides an ideal space for CCIOs and emerging clinical digital leaders to connect with colleagues across the region to discuss and share best practice on the local challenges they are facing, as well as exploring the progress of our Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and the development of associated Local Digital Roadmaps. The local network feeds into the wider national CIO and CCIO networks and has started to provide regular feedback into the NHS England (South) Regional Information and Digital Technology Delivery Board.

The digital art of the possible

Developing the conversation between transformation leaders and enterprise was the focus for our successful Digital Art of the Possible event in September 2016 at Ashton Gate Stadium. The event brought together more than 150 health and care delegates with over 50 companies and innovators all keen to explore the critical role of technology in improving health and care and in addressing the huge challenges in delivering safe, high quality services in the context of rising demand and constrained budgets.

Organised in partnership with NHS South, Central & West Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) and NHS England, the event was designed to stimulate thinking around the potential offered by emergent digital technologies. It provided a speed horizon scan for health and care leaders to consider some of the innovations and opportunities available which have potential to support STPs achieve Local Digital Roadmap transformation priorities.

Looking at almost any service improvement or transformation of care priority, there will invariably be a need to exploit technology to support professionals and also, increasingly, to enable and activate patients and citizens in caring for themselves and keeping healthy.

Identifying robust, resilient and usable technology which supports the improvements in patient care set out in the Five Year Forward View and the transformation in patient pathways prioritised by our STPs is critical to a future service where digital plays a key enabling role in reduced costs, improved quality and efficiency.

In staging the Digital Art of the Possible event our ambition was to stimulate the digital thinking of those responsible for leading and delivering transformation of the health and care service, from board level through to frontline staff and from innovator to large scale enterprise.

Our hands-on engagement with Local Digital Roadmap groups provided visibility of five core themes which were at the heart of each set of digital plans and which became the main focus of our event:

  • Clinician-to-clinician communication
  • Mobile apps and devices to support clinicians in delivery of care
  • Mobile working, connectivity and cloud solutions
  • Person-centred technologies supporting self-care, including personalised health records and citizen digital health
  • Population health analytics and real-time clinical decision support.

Our event provided the ideal space for exploratory digital conversations and for a wide range of connections to be made between NHS and enterprise. While some of our delegates and stakeholders were taking the first steps on their digital journey, there was a great deal of evidence shared that demonstrated some really positive digital developments already underway. Highlights included:

Demonstration from our colleagues in Hampshire of personalised health records (PHRs) which enable patients to access key information about their care and engage more directly with their care team, particularly around shared-care planning. Such PHRs link directly with integrated care records to create a full join between patient and care team.

Examples from across England of integrated digital care records that join up professionals across health and social care to share information in a person-centric way (rather than organisational), supporting safer and better managed care.

  • Showcasing of platforms that enable care professionals to develop solutions with patients for the issues they face, using open-source toolkits and proven methodologies.
  • Integrated web, app and phone solutions that provide ways for patients to get advice as well as signposting them to the most appropriate primary or urgent care service. These solutions also support GPs in prioritising patients who most need a face-toface appointment and manage the intense demand on primary care.
  • Digital solutions to record and share key information captured by the patient, to help manage their condition and connect with their care team to monitor changes.
  • Decision-support and analytics tools that integrate or link with the patient record to support clinicians with diagnostic and care-management decisions.

For videos from the event and details of the digital solutions exhibited, visit

Digital transformation – adoption, spread and evaluation

Plans are afoot for a follow-up event on 4 October 2017 to build on the conversations started at the Digital Art of the Possible.

As part of this next event we will continue to support the core themes communicated from the STPs and Local Digital Roadmaps in the region. In addition, we will support hands-on workshops to assist our members with techniques for rapid evaluation of digital innovations. As in 2016, we will partner with NHS England to provide even greater networking capabilities for technology companies, entrepreneurs and healthcare professionals to explore opportunities for accelerating, spreading and evaluating the digital agenda across our region and beyond.

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