GovNews, Neopost and attendees arrived at the National Theatre, London, for the first instalment in the Government Transformation Forum series. Luckily, the sun was shining on The Deck. The room filled up for the Chair's opening speech - Bernard Quinn, Director of Operational Performance for NHS Improvement. Bernard discussed the challenges, goals, and successes of NHS Improvement's Digital Outpatients Programme. His main message was clear- Digital Outpatients is about service redesign, not technology. Digital delivery can improve services at a lower cost. Cabinet Office (2015) was quoted to have saved £1.7 billion in 2015 through digital and technology transformation.

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David Tidey, Head of IT at Richmond and Wandsworth Councils, explored overcoming barriers to channel shift. David discussed encouraging User take-up within local councils and bridging the digital divide- a common theme from the day. Bringing Wi-Fi to local areas and improving broadband services increased the availability of online access to the community, decreasing the divide.

The digital future of patient care was reviewed by Dr Shahid Ali, Clinical Leader & Professor of Digital Health, at the University of Salford. Dr Ali explained that digital must be engaging- personalised to ‘me’, transactional for co-creation, uses digital marketing to engage, works on any platform, open to multiple apps, open to be connected and open to local commissioning.

After the break, we were joined by Rahna Riley, Digital Services Lead Communications, at Rochdale Borough Council. Rahna gave an inspiring talk on the importance of channel shift and accessibility when building digital services. Rochdale Borough Council moved benefit paper claims online. Doing this contributed to the reduction of Customer Services staff from 30 to 8; cut down 3,200 appointments in 2010 to just 48 in 2016/17; Cut face to face appointments down to only four per month; and cut down ring backs from one-two per week to none in 2016/17. It was clear that the council had accomplished a lot, with very little resources, but with passion and determination.

Katie Tew, Lead Nurse for Clinical Informatics, at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust talked us through creating the digital hospital with us. The fascinating talk showed how the new hospital will have completely paperless Electronic Patient Records, and live patient navigation. Nurses will each have their own device which will allow emergency calls; ability to monitor alarm alerts; patient to staff communication; staff to staff communication and patient entertainment controls. The questions rolled in as everyone wanted to know more about future hospitals.

Antony Paul, Head of Marketing Programmes, and Paul Goodbrand, Director Public Sector Strategy at Neopost finished the day's talks with three vital points:

  • Scalable solutions with scalable investment should be the priority
  • The solution must have a plan to both drive and assist the channel shift
  • Digital may be the agenda but we need to understand the physical first

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