Based on their experience working with governments, corporations and large public sector organisations, the Public Digital team has compiled a list of key characteristics that indicate good digital strategy. We believe much of this can apply to the NHS.


Signs of a good digital strategy

Our digital strategy is not defined by the services and the products that we deliver to millions of users every day. We don't mean a concentrated effort to deliver Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Blockchain across our services or any other hype tech of the moment. We may adopt some of these technologies, they may even be a by-product, but they are not our strategy.

We mean our culture, our practices and the processes we apply to create, manage and maintain our services. On the ground, this is 'lived' in how we talk about our services, how we behave and interact, the values that we work by and the thinking that drives our decision making when delivering services for our users.

NHS Business Services Authority    

Read more on the NHS Business Services Authority website.


Signs of a bad digital strategy

  • IT-driven
    Digital transformation is enabled by technology, but to truly succeed it needs to be led by chief executives, not chief information officers. Good digital strategy focuses more on outcomes for patients and staff than technical changes.

  • Cookie-cutter
    Learn from other organisations, but focus on the context of your trust and system and the needs of your users.

  • Focuses on unproven tech
    Cutting edge technology like artificial intelligence has huge potential in healthcare. But organisations should first prioritise fixing the basics, and a good digital strategy should be open about this.

  • Vague
    A digital strategy should set some clear, measurable objectives alongside a credible plan for delivering on them. The 'what', 'how' and 'when' - as well as the 'why'.

  • Too long-term
    Technology moves fast: there's not much point in trying to build a static 10 year digital strategy. Aim for a 1-5 year time horizon, aligned to your trust's strategic plan, with a constant review cycle built in.

  • Reads like a wish list
    Good digital strategy acknowledges that it won't fix everything at once and certainly can't solve everyone's problems instantly. It should be clear what is being prioritised, and equally what isn’t.