In this report, we set out the possibilities to transform health care offered by digital technologies, with important insight about how to grasp these possibilities and benefits from those furthest along their digital journey. We draw on an extensive literature and evidence review, and on interviews with leaders of health care organisations who have been actively pursuing a digital strategy over many years.
Many reports about technology-enabled change tend to focus on the large number of exciting future opportunities, but less on how to avoid common pitfalls. We aim to fill this important gap. We want leaders of NHS organisations to deepen their understanding of the digital terrain and the possibilities it offers, particularly to meet the immense productivity challenge ahead, and also to gain practical insights that will help avoid expensive mistakes.
We provide a high-level overview of the future digital health care landscape. The patient or service user is at its centre, surrounded by the patient-facing technologies that provide them with opportunities to manage their health and engage with health care providers. These include wearable devices, apps, online communities and patient portals. The electronic health record (EHR) straddles the system as a whole, reflecting the pivotal role it plays in any digital strategy. It is the foundation on which many of the other tools are built. Next are the technologies that provide tools for health care professionals. These include decision support, the capacity to access other professionals’ expertise, tools to prioritise and manage their clinical workload and tools to identify the patients at greatest risk. Finally, the outer circle shows the technologies that support organisations, including tools for business process support, predictive analytics, flow management and e-rostering, which give new resource and clinical management capabilities to health care providers.