• Articles
  • February 17, 2021
  • Gareth Morris

The digital future of the NHS


The National Health Service has been around since 1948 and has undergone a significant transformation in that time. But the biggest transformation is yet to come. Last year, NHSX was introduced to the service – a new organisation that is leading the digital transformation of the NHS to make it the most advanced health and care service in the world.

So, what does the digital future of the NHS look like so far?

Single sign-on NHS programme

Less than one week into 2020, the government announced a £40 million fund for a single sign-on NHS programme. Currently, NHS staff must log into as many as 15 different systems and programs when treating a patient – resulting in nearly 5,000 logins per day. Not only is this time consuming, but it also requires staff to remember multiple passwords or risk them using the same login for each one – posing a significant security risk. 

The programme aims to eradicate the problem by implementing a single sign-on login, that has already been shown to reduce login time from 1 minute and 45 seconds to just 10 seconds. To encourage the wide-scale adoption of this technology, a self-service toolkit for third-party developers has already been released. 

Together, this has the potential to increase productivity by saving more than 130 hours of staff time; time that can be better-invested inpatient care. 

Migration to the cloud

The NHS has already spent £2.39 million on AWS since 2012, moving the first of many health services to the cloud. This migration will continue, as part of the service’s multi-cloud strategy, using providers including AWS and Azure. Cloud migration offers significant benefits to the NHS, not least the increased security of information, including confidential patient records. 

Alongside greater performance, increased reliability and tremendous scalability, by moving to large cloud operators the NHS can also make significant energy and carbon savings too – saving much-needed costs.

Screening transformations

Following the urgent call for replacing screening IT back in October 2019, significant work and funds will be invested in revamping the service for conditions including breast, cervical and bowel cancer. 

The current systems have been deemed unfit for as long as 19 years, with unconnected systems causing duplication of effort, unnecessary expense, delays and, ultimately, deaths. The breast screening programme alone relies on 29 individual local IT systems, none of which talk to each other, which has reportedly affected up to 450,000 patients and caused 270 deaths. 

Technology will be developed to implement a single system that integrates patient information, improves patient accessibility through the use of text messages and recall systems and uses data to support targeted screening for at-risk patients. 

Consumer-style procurement

The digital transformation of the NHS aims to save time and money wherever possible, and an area ripe for improvement is that of procurement. Earlier last month, a new digitalised consumer-style procurement hub was introduced to four trusts across the country. Previous methods for NHS procurement have been complex, difficult to use and an inefficient use of time. 

The new streamlined system uses supplier-managed catalogues that enable the reallocation of resource, alongside improved data visibility, increased compliance and significant cost savings. This technology will be rolled out across the NHS and, eventually, into other public sector organisations, including police forces and local authorities.  

If you’d like to get involved in the digitalisation of the NHS, or you’re looking for the healthcare tech talent that can help, get in touch with the Evolution healthcare tech team today.

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