The future is here – it’s just not evenly distributed yet!

Digital technology is helping to revolutionise health and care for patients – and a new wave of innovative ways of working is captured in a new report from NHS and local government leaders.

New care models: harnessing technology explores how digital solutions, implemented by vanguards, are helping health and care to respond to the needs of patients, rising demand for services, constraints on funding and many workforce challenges.

Copies of the report will be available at the Transformation of Care zone at this year’s Health and Care Innovation Expo.

Roz Davies, Managing Director of Sheffield Flourish and Non-Executive Director of Care Opinion, said: “Early adopters have carefully tested a range of useful technologies which enable more efficient, targeted, person-centred services from delivering remote consultations to using tracking devices.

“The teams involved should be applauded for their creativity and tenacity in overcoming tough barriers, ranging from money flow, safeguarding, privacy, staff capacity and capability, and governance.

“You may still find antiquated fax machines in some dark corners of the system in comparison with a digital industry which has developed technology which can read people’s thoughts, created driverless cars, produced 3D printed prosthetic limbs and invented contact lenses that measure blood sugars! Health and care cannot afford to be left behind.

“This report highlights that it is possible to overcome the many challenges to adopting digital technology in health and care, and use it to enable more efficient, integrated, precise and personalised care. These vanguards have forged ahead. There is a pressing need for the rest of the system to catch up!”

The work of five vanguards is highlighted in the report, including:

  • East and North Hertfordshire – reducing the risk of falls among care home residents.
  • Better Together Mid Nottinghamshire – helping people manage their own health conditions at home.
  • Better Care Together Morecambe Bay – reducing unnecessary journeys taken by the public and ambulances.
  • East Midlands Radiology Consortium (EMRAD) – delivering timely and expert radiology services to patients across the East Midlands, regardless of where they are being treated.
  • Salford Together – delivering shared patient records and IT systems across an integrated care partnership.

These examples are just a few of the digital projects being developed by vanguards. Many other innovations are taking place as part of the development of new care models.

NHS England’s new care models harnessing technology lead, Helen Arthur, said: “The report recognises the success of vanguards in using technology to enhance, rather than replace, existing services.

“Working with the vanguards, we have developed a technology model to help other health and care organisations to think through what can be a complex process of change.

“We have identified some of the key challenges which encompasses the user experience, digital literacy, culture and return on investment. The examples of innovation, led by vanguards, in this report not only provide inspiration but learning and evidence that others can use. ‘Steal with pride’, as the report says.”

New care models: harnessing technology was produced by the NHS Confederation, NHS Providers, NHS Clinical Commissioners and the Local Government Association who are working together, with the support of NHS England, to spread the learning from the new care models programme.