Reflections from Rewired

It was an absolute delight to be back at Digital Health Rewired. The event, the first major UK gathering since the beginning of the pandemic, was extremely busy, and full of energy and engagement. There was a diverse range of speakers which included academia, clinical, research, policy and industry.

A CNIO for every Trust in England

The big news at the event was Ruth May, the chief nursing officer of England, pledging her support for every healthcare organisation to have a chief nursing information officer (CNIO). Ruth said that this would give the nursing profession the voice, the coordination and the network to make changes within the digital sphere. This was music to my ears! Back in early 2019 Imprivata supported my work with this same CNIO community with sponsorship. Since that time HIMSS, CHIME, NHSD and the Florence Nightingale Foundation have all stepped in to elevate the nurses’ role in developing Health IT.

There was a huge focus on Nursing with the inaugural Digital Nursing Summit taking place at Rewired. Sessions covered digital transformation, technology-enabled pathways for nursing care and networking and leadership in digital healthcare. One of the recurring themes was helping the profession to transition from data enterers to data interpreters. With innovation and by embracing digital transformation, this can and should happen.

IT innovation and clinician ambition can push for patient outcomes

Almost every session that I attended talked about digital transformation in some way (perhaps not too surprising at a Digital Health event), but the underlying message was that the technology must serve healthcare. There was a lot of discussion on how ICSs can help to develop digital maturity which they will need to do in order to share patient information across many different healthcare organisations. The focus, however, is not using tech for tech’s sake, every project must be led by the delivery of care, with IT complementing and empowering clinicians.

There were numerous Trusts presenting case studies on the use of many different technologies (many of whom, I’m pleased to note, were Imprivata customers). The emphasis in the presentations was delivering improvements in patient experience and health outcomes.

Clinical Safety

Another topical theme was digital patient safety at both system and clinical level. There is a groundswell of realisation that with digital systems comes digital risk. Although they are rarely talked about, DCB0129, a standard for manufacturers of health IT software that helps to prove the clinical safety of products, and the corresponding standard for health organisations deploying IT, DCB0160, are in fact a legal requirements and have been around for about 10 years. There was considerable discussion about how to generate evidence of compliance, ensuring regulation can keep pace with technology and the challenges of who manages and innovates in delivering patient safety.

Sustainable funding – What does that look like?

One topic that was somewhat skirted around was funding. To support digital transformation sustainably, the on-going delivery of IT needs to become part of the OpEx budget. Rather than relying on a big-bang approach where a substantial sum is used to fund a one-off project to upgrade technology or implement a new system, subscription-based services delivers long term viability and usability of the technology over many years.

Working in Partnership

The overall feeling is that there is still a lot to do if digital transformation is to help healthcare organisations deliver excellent patient outcomes that meet the requirements of the 21st century, while also safeguarding the very people providing the care, the nurses, clinicians and care givers.

One thing is very apparent and that is that no one organisation can do it all, not even the NHS. Partnership with industry will be key. Trusts, vendors and the healthcare industry need to work together in partnership to create real value. By moving away from a transactional focus, and working towards a relationship where commitment and communication play a key role, we the healthcare industry at large and the NHS in particular will become far greater than the sum of our parts.