10 practical lessons for implementing digital innovations - learning from the Care City test bed

Digital health innovations are often seen as 'ready made' solutions to challenges facing health and care systems but despite their potential, implementing these technologies can be complex. This summary highlights ten lessons for those working to integrate technology into health and social care services. The findings are based on a large-scale evaluation of digital technologies being implemented in health and social care in East London.

This reports sits alongside a series of summaries on technology implementation, drawing on findings from the Care City project

Despite the huge potential of digital health innovations to transform health and social care services, the full benefits are still not being delivered for service users and staff.

Digital technology is often implemented as a ‘ready-made’ solution to many of the challenges facing the health and social care system with little consideration of the complexity of implementing digital health innovations. What’s more, guidance on how to best approach the implementation of innovations in health settings is scarce. As a result, many innovations are not embedded into care pathways effectively or adopted successfully. Identifying how to harness the benefits of digital technology will not only increase the chance of successful adoption, but also help to deliver the best care possible for patients, as well as deliver benefits for staff. 

This summary outlines 10 key lessons for the implementation, adoption, and spread of digital innovations in health and social care services. The lessons are designed to support policy makers, commissioners, innovators and service providers keen to integrate technology into health and social care services to successfully embed innovations into care pathways. However, they will not be universally relevant to every innovation, context and stakeholder, all of the time.

The full suite of resources published alongside the summary (see below) includes three slide sets detailing key findings and background from each of the tools and technologies being evaluated and a full evaluation report that brings together findings from this large-scale mixed-methods evaluation.

Further resources

Download the full report [PDF 2.42MB]

Findings from digital innovations in:
Domiciliary care      Primary care      Cardiac rehab

The findings are based on a real-world evaluation of digital technologies being implemented in health and social care. The NHS England Test Bed programme was designed to bring together NHS organisations and commercial providers of digital technologies in order to test market-ready innovations and new ways of delivering care, with the potential to improve patient experiences and outcomes. This summary draws on the Care City test bed site that was based in East London. 

The 10 key lessons

  1. Dedicate sufficient time and resource to engage with end users
  2. Co-design or co-production with end users is an essential tool when implementing technology
  3. Identify the need and its wider impact on the system, not a need for a technology
  4. Explore the motivators and barriers that might influence user uptake of an innovation
  5. Ignore information governance requirements at your peril
  6. Don’t be afraid to tailor the innovation along the journey
  7. Ensure adequate training is built in for services using the technology
  8. Embedding the innovation is only half the journey – ongoing data collection and analysis is key
  9. Ensure there is sufficient resource, capacity and project management support to facilitate roll-out
  10. Recognise that variation across local areas exists and adapt the implementation accordingly

Suggested citation

Sherlaw-Johnson C, Crellin N, Hutchings R, Oung C, Rolewicz L, Kumpunen S and Scobie S (2021) 10 practical lessons for implementing digital innovations - learning from the Care City test bed. Research report, Nuffield Trust

Appears in

Care City

  • 29/10/2018