Helen Arthur on learning from technological innovation in the vanguards

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Helen Arthur

Helen Arthur, Harnessing Technology Lead, New Care Models Programme at NHS England, talks about how the vanguards are applying technology, how other areas can learn from their challenges and successes and why she is looking forward to the Digital Health and Care Congress in July.

What will you be talking about at the Digital Health and Care Congress?

Through the new care models programme, it has been my privilege to work with a wide range of localities and share in their successes. We will be giving an update on some of the key learning from the vanguard programme about how digital solutions can support the delivery of new care models. We are keen to share with delegates some of the fantastic achievements and top tips to support other localities to replicate this success – including some pitfalls to avoid. In addition, this will be a great opportunity to share the learning with a wider audience; we are really looking forward to seeing the reaction of delegates and as always taking the opportunity to hear about what's going on elsewhere.

What successes have you seen in the vanguards?

We have seen some fantastic examples. The most exciting ones come to life for me when you can see the human interaction. Getting the right technology is only part of the answer, for example:

  • East and North Hertfordshire are using digital technology to support falls prevention through linking a 'timed up and go' mobile device to exercise classes
  • the Walton Centre have developed their own tele-neurology service, which enables them to provide specialist advice to their satellite clinics
  • Dudley's Sensely nurse avatar can communicate with patients in 30 different languages; it is currently used to assist with triage through their mobile kiosks but, with the ability for machine learning, it has the potential to deliver so much more. Delegates will learn more about the implementation of this virtual nurse on day one of the congress.

What have the vanguards learnt about using technology?

Many of the themes won't surprise anyone, but they do point to a need to get much better at learning from others and stealing with pride! At this year’s Digital Health and Care Congress, we want to share with you our key learning for creating the right environment for transformation, including:

  • organisational readiness, clinical leadership and an empowered workforce
  • good infrastructure, information governance and single sign-on
  • digital as an enabler: being really clear what business or clinical need we are responding to.

What are your top three tips for place-based systems embarking on the digital journey?

  • Take a system-wide approach – while small pilots and point-to-point solutions can make a real difference, to achieve true transformation all the organisations in your health and care system need to come together to understand your population needs and to take a systematic approach to designing solutions that meet a clear business or clinical need.
  • Create the culture for success – strong leadership and a shared vision across all the key parties in your area is critical but it’s also really important to ensure that transformation is led by clinicians and practitioners. All staff need to be engaged and empowered to put forward their views to make sure we deliver solutions that meet their needs and achieve great user experience.
  • Don't start from scratch – can you learn from other areas? For example, we’re very excited to be sharing the new care models technology model framework at the congress, which is the culmination of many months’ hard work with South Central and West Commissioning Support Unit and the new care models programme to support localities (accountable care systems, sustainability and transformation partnerships, etc) in mapping and planning the deployment of technology programmes in support of new models of care. This and the vanguard case studies can help point you in the right direction for all of the above!