Usher Institute

Major NHS digital transformation programme ‘a success’

Evaluation project publish report highlighting success of flagship NHS effort to support hospitals to digitally transform - 29 September 2021

Advances made in hospitals on the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme include patients being treated for sepsis faster and frontline staff spending less time on admin tasks.

The independent evaluation report by the University of Edinburgh praises the programme for stimulating digitally enabled transformation and helping organisations to achieve international standards of excellence.

As a first-of-type in the world, this was such an exciting initiative to work on. We are proud to have contributed to the success of this programme through our formative feedback and hope that we will be able to continue to facilitate the digitisation agenda of the NHS and internationally.

A number of GDEs have now formally received their accreditation for meeting the aims of the programme, with many more expected to do so in the coming months.

Knowledge transfer through formal and informal learning networks, and the creation of resources such as Blueprints, has established a lasting legacy of collaboration between organisations.

NHSX has now switched the focus of technology funding to supporting those organisations that need extra help to digitise. Nearly 60 trusts are benefiting from the NHSX Digital Aspirants programme.

Dr Kathrin CresswellSenior Lecturer , Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh

Originally launched in 2016, the Global Digital Exemplar programme has supported 51 NHS acute, mental health and ambulance trusts to digitally transform - with local organisations required to match fund national investment of £302 million.

Those trusts were already doing digital, but through the programme were given the opportunity to demonstrate that the NHS could do digital well and push the boundaries of their own journeys.

The findings of the report highlight approaches, insights and outcomes that underpin NHSX’s ongoing work to support the digitisation of our health and care system.

This work includes the Digital Aspirant programme and ongoing investment in frontline digitisation, alongside the What Good Looks Like guidance for good digital practice and access to support, and other guidance including the GDE Blueprints.

Other key features of the programme are now embedded in how NHSX is ensuring organisations are ready to make best use of the central funding provided, including:

  • High level ownership at board and divisional levels and clinical ownership across the organisation
  •  The necessity of digital transformation expertise being in place (exemplified by the appointment of Chief Information Officers, Chief Clinical Information Officers and Chief Nursing Information Officers)
  • The insistence on organisations having an internal vision and strategy for digitally enabled transformation and associated signed off business cases
  • The maintenance of a dynamic plan with milestones and benefits delivery linked to funding flows
  • Strengthened engagements between adopters and vendors collectively

I would like to thank the Global Digital Exemplar and Fast Follower trusts for supporting and creating a learning and sharing environment, and the confidence that the NHS can deliver ‘What Good Looks Like’ in terms of digital transformation.

The publication of Edinburgh University’s report both informs and confirms our approach to levelling up digitisation of health and care through our Digital Aspirant programme and ongoing investment in frontline digitisation.

I look forward to seeing further programme participants reach their accreditation status and continue to share invaluable learning with our cohort of Digital Aspirants.

Sonia PatelChief information officer at NHSX

Amongst the achievements of GDEs:

  • Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust - increased the percentage of patients receiving administration of antibiotics for sepsis within one hour of diagnosis to 90% - average rose from 25.6% to 90% in 2020
  • Patients at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre can now quickly and easily check in for appointments using digital check-in kiosks, and consultants can use their time more effectively through virtual ward rounds and digital dictation for clinic notes.
  • Cutting edge work at North Tees and Hartlepool includes the implementation of a pharmaceutical robot for drug dispensing, and an electronic prescribing administration module (EPMA) that allows clinicians to digitally track and prescribe patient medication.
  • South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust (STSFT) installed a single EPR across both sites with clinical decision support and has fully deployed closed loop medicines administration.
  • Collaboration between University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (GDE) and Whittington Health NHS Trust (Fast Follower) enabled the Fast Follower eObservations project to be delivered in 6 months (versus 12 months)

It is great to see that the GDE programme has succeeded in promoting digital transformation. The combination of resources, governance, and reputation, supported by increasing status of clinical change expertise has helped to achieve this.

Professor Robin WilliamsPersonal Chair in Social Research on Technology, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, University of Edinburgh

Read more

Full report available on the Global Digital Exemplar Programme Evaluation website

Blog post from Dermot Ryan, Director of Frontline Digitisation, NHSX, on NHSX website