The breadth and variety of global digital exemplar (GDE) plans, presented by leading NHS trusts, were highlighted at the second Digital Health Leadership Summit.

The two-day Summit provided the opportunity for current acute exemplars, prospective mental health exemplars, fast followers and other trusts to explore how the GDE programme worked.

The second Digital Health Leadership Summit, organised by Digital Health, was designed to bring together local and national NHS digital leaders, together with senior NHS executives, including chief executives, finance directors, medical directors, chief operating officers and non-exec directors.

Held in Southampton, between 22-23 February, the Chatham House event, sponsored by IMS Maxims and Samsung and supported by NHS Digital, was chaired by NHS England CIO Will Smart.

The GDE programme, initially designed to channel £100m of investment into 12 – now expanded to 16- leading acute trusts to enable them to accelerate digitisation efforts and become global exemplars was announced in September 2016, following the publication of the Wachter Review of NHS IT.

The leadership teams of nine of the initial 12 exemplars gave attendees an outline on how they plan to accelerate digital maturity, both within their organisations and across health and care communities over the next few years.

All GDE trusts expected to step up digitisation efforts and achieve HIMSS Level 7, a US benchmark of electronic medical records maturity, an achievement  not yet achieved by an English NHS hospital trust.

The strategic importance of GDE plans was underlined by the participation of leading trust chief executives. Presentations from University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, were led by their respective chief executives, jointly presenting with the CIOs and CCIOs.

The acute GDE trusts have to commit local funding of up to £10m to match funds from NHS England.  They will also be expected to pair up with up to two ‘fast followers’ and develop standard blueprints that other trusts can subsequently follow.

Attendees discussed and explored key aspects of the flagship GDE programme, including funding, fast followers, relationships with suppliers, connections to STPs and digital roadmaps, and links with other key digital initiatives.

A reminder of the range of digitisation efforts underway beyond initial GDE sites was provided in Vanguard Project presentations from Barts and the London and the East London shared records project.

The latter, funded by health IT charitable foundation Endeavor, is working on developing  a personal health and care record that has the potential to scale nationally.

In addition to GDE presentations and Q&A, the Summit also included a series of workshops to inform attendees to help them influence national plans on the professionalization of health informatics, the NHS Leadership Academy, interoperability efforts; and supporting the many trusts outside the GDE and fast follower programmes.

The 2018 Digital Health Leadership, provisionally scheduled to be held in Bristol in early March, will take the pulse of GDEs one year on and explore their achievements and lessons to date.

To register your interest in details of the 2018 Digital Health Leadership Summit, email