Independent experts are to evaluate the impact of a flagship NHS scheme which aims to improve the use of technology in hospitals.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have been commissioned by NHS England to examine a new programme that will aid and support some of England’s most digitally advanced hospitals. The programme aims to help other hospitals and NHS trusts around the UK learn from these pioneering institutions and improve practices.
NHS England’s Global Digital Exemplar programme was launched in August 2016 in an effort to introduce IT innovations across the NHS. Currently, there are 16 acute trusts and seven mental health trusts taking part in the programme as the NHS looks to maximise efficiency in patient care and ease pressure on staff. Each trust is working on innovative digital projects, including providing doctors with faster access to accurate information and improving the bedside monitoring of patients.
Edinburgh University will lead the evaluation, collaborating with experts from University College London (UCL), Harvard Medical School and NHS Arden & Greater East Midlands Commissioning Support Unit (Arden & GEM). The team will work alongside partners to gather feedback for policy makers and managers to establish key areas that should be addressed as the NHS increasingly turns to digital technology to assist in healthcare services.
Dr Kathrin Cresswell and Professor Robin Williams – who are leading the project from the University of Edinburgh – highlighted the NHS’ vision for digital transformation; which focuses firmly on maximising efficiency in patient care and maintaining world-class healthcare services:
“The NHS is strategically investing in developing the IT capabilities of Global Digital Exemplar and Fast Follower sites to transform the ways in which patient care is delivered.
“We are delighted to have been commissioned to evaluate this important national initiative. Our aim is to provide timely, constructive advice to NHS England on how the patient benefits from this investment can be maximised.”
Professor Aziz Sheikh, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, reiterated this statement, and believes that for the NHS to provide world-leading healthcare it must modernise and streamline patient services.
He said: “There is now widespread recognition that the NHS needs to evolve to provide higher quality, safer, more efficient healthcare that is delivered in patient-centred ways.”
In 2017 the University of Edinburgh was selected to collaborate with Harvard Medical School and London’s Imperial College to launch the NHS Digital Academy. The virtual organisation aimed to train over 300 IT leaders for health services over the next three years; providing healthcare professionals with the skills to use new technologies to improve patient experiences. As part of the scheme, experts are also developing 12-month, part-time training programmes for NHS staff, covering the issues of leadership in work, public attitudes to data sharing and transformational changes in the health service.