Digital transformation demystified: How to write your own success story

For an organisation like the NHS, digital transformation can present challenges, but the need for faster service delivery, cost management efficiency, and improvements to patient care make the adoption of technology a strategic priority. Here, Sascha Giese of SolarWinds shares his thoughts on how healthcare organisations can succeed

The NHS needs to embrace digital transformation in order to improve services and achieve financial efficiencies

Digital transformation, as it has commonly become known, refers to a business restructuring its systems and infrastructure to avoid a potential tipping point caused by older technologies and downward market influences.

Despite all of the positives that this integration of digital technology can bring, it can also be quite disrupting, as it impacts nearly every aspect of how the organisation operates

But, despite all of the positives that this integration of digital technology can bring, it can also be quite disrupting, as it impacts nearly every aspect of how the organisation operates.

For an organisation like the UK NHS, this can present more challenges for private sector businesses, or even other public-sector services.

This circumstance can reduce the amount of time and money available for projects, such as digital transformation, regardless of their potential benefits.

Outdated infrastructure often struggles to keep up with the amount and type of data being produced in today’s society, and with the volume of data the NHS processes now being supplemented by data coming in from private healthcare providers as well, the technology deployed could fall further behind.

There are also growing concerns regarding the management and security of such vast amounts of data, particularly if the NHS is expected to become more reliant on it.

Acknowledging that legacy technology is holding the NHS back means they’re best placed to start implementing these changes

Because of this, the NHS is in the perfect position to benefit from implementing a digital transformation strategy. No matter how small, starting now could help keep doctors away from paperwork and closer to their patients, which, at the end of the day, is what really matters.

Embracing digital practices that are focused on integrating current and emerging technologies, such as cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analytics, could help the healthcare service to:

Outdated digital infrastructure is holding the NHS back

  • Access new software, new functionalities, and updates faster
  • Focus its talent, resources, and research and development investments better on solutions that meet its unique needs.
  • Facilitate and support work that can happen anywhere, anytime, at the speed of technology

For the NHS to reap the benefits of digital transformation, it is important for IT decision makers to consider these points.

Without the knowledge of how and why digital transformation can benefit the NHS, it is understandable that a recent survey from SolarWinds, conducted by iGov, found that nearly one in five NHS trusts surveyed have no digital transformation strategy, and a further 24% have only just started one.

Being aware is the first hurdle to overcome, and the NHS is already on its way to conquering it.

With the right preparation and tools in place, the journey to digital transformation can be a positive experience for the NHS and can yield impressive results

The survey found that 29% of trusts surveyed view legacy technology as a significant barrier for their organisation for security, efficiency, and service delivery.

Getting to grips with new technology is always going to be a challenge, and even more so for those handling some of the UK’s most-critical data - that of our health and wellbeing - so acknowledging that legacy technology is holding the NHS back means they’re best placed to start implementing these changes.

This would begin with recognising the current position of the NHS and what it needs most from technology, what services are currently offered, and what needs to be achieved.

Next, IT leaders should consider implementing a transformation strategy that supports these goals. Enlisting the right people from within the organisation with expertise that can guide the process and implementing the best tools can help enable visibility and management throughout the whole process. Some methods to think about executing first include:

  • Simplifying current IT: Complexity often leads to mistakes, longer processes, and increased costs across the board
  • Keeping IT flexible: Ensuring compatibility between on-premises systems and cloud platforms. Hybrid environments are the norm for many agencies. NHS trusts should consider technology that enables the use of private, public, or hybrid cloud, where data, workloads, and applications can be moved from one platform to another with a simple click
  • Maintaining IT resilience: Trusts that need to run 24/7 should utilise systems that ensure both data availability and data protection. Having highly-available, resilient data will aid the NHS in adopting a cloud strategy
  • Creating a transformational culture: Trusts should consider how current operations might slow down a more-rapid approach to continuous improvement. A change in culture is something that, if not considered, could halt these strategies before they even begin. Changing the culture starts at the top. If trust leaders are unwilling to consider change, it’s likely that their subordinates are also resistant

With the right preparation and tools in place, the journey to digital transformation can be a positive experience for the NHS and can yield impressive results.

The healthcare industry can benefit greatly from implementing transformation strategies, so the sooner these can be integrated, the quicker we can see improvements across the board.

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