Several NHS organisations will have to give importance to investing in replacing old IT infrastructure and networks to realise the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan, NHSX associate CIO Rob Parker has said.
NHSX is a government unit with the responsibility for setting national policy and developing best practice for NHS technology, digital and data.
Addressing the annual Northern, Yorkshire and Humberside NHS Directors of Informatics Forum’s (NHYDIF) conference in York, Parker also talked about the new digital plans that are expected to be prepared by the integrated care systems (ICSs).
Parker said that ICSs will have to spend the coming years “paying the collective price on accumulated technical debt” to be able to progress to deliver joined-up digitally enabled patient care.
Affirming that digital investments must be linked to system-wide outcomes, Parker said: “We’ve seen the formation of ICS and system vanguards that have so far been largely in isolation from technology.
“I don’t know how many investment funds we’ve had in particular areas or capabilities, including tech funds, provider digitisation, GDEs, LHCR, e-rostering, e-prescribing and diagnostics, but we now need to move to system-wide enablers.
“We now need to link digital maturity and transformation to overall service transformation.”
The NHSX associate CIO showed slides indicating that the new ICS plans are expected to cover core areas such as infrastructure, improving diagnostic services, digitising providers, resource and activity management; integrating health and care data records and workflows; patient-facing services; and population health analytics and intelligence.
ICSs will be expected to classify their capabilities in these areas into basic, developing and advanced.
He said that the centre will score the ICSs on their collective digital maturity.
Furthermore, Parker confirmed that linking technology to the ambitions of the long-term plan will form a key part of the digital plans that the new ICSs are expected to draw up.
Parker said: “This creates a massive opportunity over the next for 3-5 years for us in the centre and locally delivering the digital tools to deliver those key enablers real. The move to ICS’s is a chance to massively increase scale of what we’ve been doing.”