About us

This guide has been prepared jointly by NHS Providers and Public Digital as part of the Digital Boards programme. Digital Boards has been commissioned by Health Education England as part of their Digital Readiness programme and is supported by NHSX.

Through good practice sharing and peer learning, the programme aims to build board understanding of the potential, and implications of, the digital agenda and increase the confidence and capability of boards to harness the opportunities it provides.

Alongside our guide series, a number of webinars and events are available to trust leaders, focusing on case studies of digital leadership in the NHS and other sectors and practical take-homes for boards. The programme is also offering free board development sessions on a bespoke basis to reflect the development needs of your organisation. To find out more please contact us.

About this guide

Technology plays a critical role in health and care today, with some arguing it is a key determinant of health. Trust boards now wrestle with important technology decisions on a regular basis, yet many board members feel ill equipped to do this. This guide is designed to make technology less intimidating and more accessible.

The content included is for all board leaders, not just chief information officers (CIOs) or those directly involved in technology decisions. In fact, it is even more important for those less familiar with technology to read on, given the strategic importance of technology in health and care.

We recommend all board leaders read our Questions for boards summary. The rest of the guide is broken down into chapters that can be read standalone. They can be accessed and shared individually, depending on what information you need.

Chapter two sets the scene about why technology is important, how it has changed in recent years, and how the NHS is still at a transition point. Chapter three explores some of the key considerations for boards ahead of making any technology decisions. It then sets out the strategies for managing technology risks within the NHS. Chapter five poses the questions boards will need to reflect on when making choices that will have long-term consequences, and how to avoid making bad decisions. The final chapters are written to make the electronic patient record and interoperability agendas more accessible for board leaders.

This guide is suitable for all NHS trusts, regardless of your level of digital maturity. It builds on our previous guide on digital strategy, which trust boards will use to steer and guide their technology decision making process ahead of any go-live.

And it's important to remember that the launch of any new technology is just the beginning, not the end. Boards must understand what the plan is for improvement, maintenance and renewals. More importantly, every tool needs a team. Boards therefore will also need to build and support digital teams in order to get the most out of technology.