The rapid digital advances driven by the conditions of Covid-19 are setting the template for a more progressive future.
Some are calling it the coronaissance – a new era of change and innovation. One commentator suggested the world has jumped from 2020 to 2030 in just a few weeks.
The question for businesses is how best to harness new digital capabilities in their quest not only to survive but to gain advantages that foster growth.
In the challenges of the months ahead, applying technology in the right areas will enable organisations to make efficiencies, accelerate productivity, increase agility, encourage collaboration and increase resilience.
One organisation making progress in many of these areas is the UK's National Health Service. The NHS has shown a willingness to deliver digital change at a pace that would not have been thought possible just a few months previously.
Much of the credit goes to NHSX, a unit set up in 2019 to drive digital transformation programmes across the NHS. The CEO of NHSX, Matthew Gould said in a blog: “Suddenly, care is being delivered digitally. For NHSX and its partners, it has meant getting products and services up and running at a speed which would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago.”
Here we look at five areas of digital transformation in which the NHS is making rapid progress and we explore what broader lessons can be drawn from that.
1. Making collaboration easier
Collaboration has become one of the key imperatives of 2020. Digital tools have been vital in enabling remote collaboration. In the NHS, video conferencing was quickly rolled out to connect not just clinicians but also supply chain specialists, IT technicians and senior management. The question for the NHS and other organisations is how to enable frictionless and effective collaboration in the long-term. Coordinating the actions of disparate teams is not a new challenge. It’s one that Checkit has been working on for a long time. Our solution, digital work management, is designed to empower teams to be consistently productive in even the most dynamic, fast-moving environments.
2. Improving the flow of data
Data mastery will give the NHS a big advantage in the battle to slow the spread of COVID-19. The focus has been on not only gathering data but improving the flow, aggregation and analysis of data to improve the pace and accuracy of decision-making. Dashboards presenting live, consistent information are being set up within key areas of the NHS to aid research, treatment and resource allocation. There is a concerted effort to establish a “single source of truth” – combining data from multiple sources to gain actionable, up-to-date insight. How many other organisations could benefit from this? The speed at which data is collected and configured is crucial. At Checkit we’re dedicated to providing organisations with real-time operational data that helps them adapt more quickly to unexpected threats, address potential issues and achieve efficiencies.
3. Empowering frontline workers
Renewed recognition of frontline workers has been one of the more welcome outcomes of the coronavirus outbreak. NHS digital teams have put a strong focus on supporting frontline staff with technology that lifts some of their burden, including automating the sending of test results, using data to improve allocation of resources and ramping up the provision of online services to reduce incoming patient numbers. However, there’s more to do – and not just in healthcare. Key workers in public services, food manufacturing, logistics and delivery, care homes, schools, catering, cleaning and facilities management can all benefit from additional support. Digital work management tools that prompt and guide essential activity also reduce reliance on time-consuming paperwork and provide digital evidence of completion.
4. Propelling innovation
True innovation rarely happens in isolation. The NHS has been engaging with existing and new technology partners to solve the most pressing problems posed by the pandemic. An important ingredient of innovation is a willingness to be bold and trial new approaches. “Suddenly, we’re testing these new ways of working and they work absolutely fine. So I think it’s going to be a really different NHS when we come out,” said Sarah Wilkinson, CEO of NHS Digital, in an interview with Computer Weekly. “Stuff that we would probably have prevaricated over for days, weeks or months, we have been forced to make a decision on pretty quickly, and that’s been really powerful and helpful.” How many other organisations can learn from that? Difficult conditions could create a stronger willingness to trial new approaches. At Checkit, we’re working with numerous organisations on the development of pilot schemes that prove effectiveness before wider roll-out.
5. Building resilience
A priority on the agenda of many organisations will be to build resilience for the future, so they can better protect themselves against further shocks. The NHS plans to develop many of the initiatives outlined above into longer-term plans. “Having relevant data to hand will make our systems more resilient and better able to respond immediately to the next crisis – or even predict it before it happens,” said Matthew Gould. “Furthermore, sophisticated data analysis will allow us to make changes to the NHS, ensuring that our hardworking health and care professionals and the people that depend on them are served by a much more efficient and responsive organisation.” What is crucial is that real-time data is collated and analysed for insight that helps identify weak points, reducing the risk of future vulnerability.
Checkit specialises in real-time operations management, enabling organisations to digitise essential operational tasks, engage their workers in consistent patterns of behaviour and gather actionable data that drives continuous improvement. More information: www.checkit.net
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