UK e-Health Week: A HIMSS EVENT

   OLYMPIA LONDON - 15-16 MAY, 2018

May 15-16, 2018 | Olympia, London

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to digital transformation - By Rachel Dunscombe

By Rachel Dunscombe

OK, so it’s probably a bit of an overstatement to say that UK e-Health Week 2018 will be focusing on the search for the meaning of life – but there are definitely parallels between this year’s event and Douglas Adams’ tale of an epic, unpredictable adventure into the unknown.

Digital transformation in the NHS is on a high profile journey from the back room to the board room and we as leaders in the space have the responsibility of getting it there safely, picking up as many hitchhikers as we can along the way.

Disruption is the name of the game on our particular trip.

Take the high street banks, for example, which successfully transitioned from analogue to online banking only to see the emergence of the challenger bank model, threatening to undermine all the good work they had done. The NHS faces a similar scenario, with emergence of new players in the tech space already beginning to alter the dynamic within the system.

The banks are responding in the way that the private sector does so well – disrupting from within to stay ahead of the game. The challenge for the NHS is to do the same, and the challenge for us is to facilitate this by giving boards the confidence to do something that doesn’t come naturally to them.

To do that effectively we will need to turn our heads away from looking down towards our own community and instead lift them up to see the inspiring evidence that is all around us. We have to learn the lessons from people like Amazon and Tesco and we have to embrace innovative methodologies like the Barclays Digital Eagles. Then, armed with this intelligence, we will have to articulate it in ways that inspire our organsiational and clinical leaders.

We’re going to have to be storytellers and picture painters in order to persuade boards to make the most of the opportunities that digital presents.

But the truth is, that role doesn’t come naturally to most of us.

To do it well we will all have to learn new skills, competencies and ways of working. We’ll have to develop the authority to get the board’s attention and the creativity to hold it.

Key to this will be constantly finding new ways to learn from each other and support each other. In short, to get this right we need have one another’s backs.

Digital transformation is the biggest journey the NHS has ever had to take and the spotlight is well and truly on it. But amid all the chaos and confusion we have to keep reminding ourselves that the journey is not about the vehicle, it’s about the number of people behind the wheel, in the back and on the top and a few more waving from the banks.

And that’s why an event like UK e-Health Week is so important – because it’s a chance for us to come together, observe, learn and share. Oh, and above all, to agree on our all important hitchhiker acquisition strategy!

Rachel Dunscombe
CEO of the NHS Digital Academy
Visiting Professor Imperial College

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