Digital transformation: Staff and patients are at the very heart of the agenda

06 May 2021

Clinical leaders have shared how staff experience and patient safety is at the heart of advancing digital transformation in the NHS.

In the second episode of NHS Providers' Digital Boards podcast series, Digital Boards: Lessons from clinical leadership, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, is joined by Ayesha Rahim, chief clinical information officer (CCIO) and deputy medical director at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, and Annalise McNair, CCIO at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, to discuss the importance of digital in their roles as clinicians, and how their CCIO roles act as the bridge between clinicians and their respective trust boards.

They reflect that while the pandemic has underlined the importance of digital advancement to provide care fit for the 21st century, the NHS was already on a journey to overcome archaic ways of working and to address frustrations around NHS technology. The past year has accelerated this process, moving digital into a core part of business, rather than being viewed as an 'optional extra'.

Other topics covered in the podcast include:

Ayesha Rahim says the CCIO role is not just about identifying 'shiny new things' but also about basic infrastructure and 'getting things done', such as ensuring staff have reliable kit that they use daily. Both guest speakers draw on examples of how digital can improve workflow and as a result enhance patient experience. Annalise McNair says that this helps ensure that clinicians can see the direction of travel and what the board is trying to achieve through transformation. They stress the need for more clinicians from a range of disciplines to take on this role, to ensure lasting transformation.

They both also seek to demystify the digital roles they have, stressing that having technical expertise is not part of the job – trusts have IT staff with the know-how. Their roles are instead focused on providing solutions, putting the patient at the centre of conversations, making sure they receive safe care, with technology being the means rather than the objective.

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