Evidence of the benefits of many Nursing Technology Fund projects is "scarce", a report commissioned by NHS England reveals.
Anne Cooper, deputy professional lead at the Health and Social Care Information Centre, spoke about the results of the report at the iLinks Innovations conference in Aintree this week.
She said the main problems is not the lack of benefits, but that the way they are being measured is flawed.
The HSCIC commissioned the East Midlands Academic Heath Science Network to evaluate and review programmes that received money from the Nursing Technology Fund – a central government fund set up in 2013 to invest in digital technologies to support the work of nurses.
The money, released in two batches of £30 million and £35 million, has supported more than 150 projects using 10 technology types ranging from electronic observations to digital pens.
Cooper said evidence of benefits so far is “really mixed”.
“We found that for many of the technologies we were funding the evidence is scarce,” she said.
“The reason it was mixed is not because the technology isn't doing good, it's that the evidence is not very good. And that means we have not been working hard enough to look at providing evidence for what we have done.”
Cooper explained that the evaluation, which has not yet been publicly released, was mostly done using scale studies, case studies and analysis that was not thorough, which she said, “just really isn't good enough”.
The situation on the ground is more positive, with people doing “really good things”, she added.
Benefits realisation might also be slower as organisations are allowing time for programmes to be embedded fully into their service before measuring any outcomes.
To solve this problem Cooper called for a new approach to analysing the outcomes of digital technology programmes and for the NHS to “think differently and be more creative about how we do things.”
This includes greater collaboration with academic partners, where engagement is not as strong as it could be.
The NHS England report Cooper is referring to is due to be published shortly.