Improving technological innovation within the NHS is crucial if it is to reach the “holy grail” of reducing healthcare costs and increasing productivity, according to a TechUK manifesto.
The suppliers body’s manifesto for 2015 to 2020, ‘Securing our Digital Future’, is aimed at encouraging politicians to recognise the “critical significance of the global digital revolution” and makes a number of recommendations to improve digital innovation and increase growth.
The manifesto says increasing productivity in the delivery of healthcare should be considered “the holy grail of public policy”, given the financial impact of an aging population and the associated long-term chronic conditions.
It says there is “enormous” potential to improve health outcomes and reduce costs using technology, such as by improving fata flows to speed up diagnoses, enable earlier interventions and make more efficient use of resources.
“ However, the ability of the health and social care system to understand, adopt and absorb the benefits of new technologies is often hampered by organisational structures, budgets and processes that are not designed to encourage innovative new ways of doing things.”
The manifesto describes the government’s goal to make the NHS paperless by 2018 as “an important attempt to change [the] status quo”, but says more must be done to ensure it is a success while also encouraging more “bold challenges” in future.
It recommends establishing a new central platform for suppliers to show the range of industry options to health providers, as well as undertaking a “comprehensive review and reform” of procurement in health and social care.
“Procurement innovations introduced by [the] government such as Lean and G-Cloud have many advantages, but suppliers continue to cite examples of NHS trusts and local authorities ignoring both services or, in some cases, not knowing what they are.”
The manifesto says senior clinical engagement should be mandatory when procuring information systems to ensure that users are involved in the decision, while also encouraging a “more holistic view” of the impact on patients.
It also encourages providers to be less “risk averse” when procuring systems and consider using services from small and medium sized enterprises or start-ups, through proportionate qualification and evaluation processes during a procurement and better recourse for failed or cancelled bids.
Other proposed political initiatives include Cabinet-level leadership for a single integrated digital strategy, digital ministerial portfolios across all government departments, the appointment of a government chief privacy officer to improve public confidence in data privacy, and “digital-trust-by-default” for all public services.
Julian David, chief executive of TechUK, said the manifesto is a “roadmap” for the next government to ensure that technology is used as effectively as possible. “Get it right, and the action we take over the next five years can secure our digital future for the next 30."