Local areas may sometimes be more capable of driving speedy digital change than national organisations, a new report from The King’s Fund has suggested.

‘Digital change in health and social care’ was published by the independent body on June 21. Harry Evans, one of its authors, told Digital Health News he believed there was a “strong message” in the report about digital change in a local setting.

He added: “To some extent local is better at some of this stuff rather than national policy.

“Our message is that locals are starting to do this and doing it pretty well; it’s a positive message.”

The report looks at five areas across the country which are said to have made “significant progress” towards digital change: Liverpool health and social care economy, Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Berkshire and Frimley and Homerton University Hospital.

After spending time with staff working in each of the areas, King’s Fund researchers picked up on what they had learnt through the process. That included details of barriers facing local organisations which are starting to implement digital technologies.

Among these were “concerns and anxiety” over what has happened in the past with NHS IT projects, and issues with projects being perceived solely as relevant to those working in tech.

The report states: “Users only positively engage with change when they see it as a clinical change, not an IT project.”

Evans said one of the surprises he found when carrying out the report was how much of digital change comes from “the bottom up”.

He said: “The report highlights how much the success of digital change relies on the clinicians to get involved and get on board.

“There are local clinicians who are really interested in improving care by using digital.”

Another barrier was information governance (IG), which is becoming an increasing concern following the introduction of the general data protection regulation (GDPR) and the NHS’s National Data Opt-out scheme, which gives patients greater control over their data.

The report states in order to securre trust with patients, “organisations need to be transparent and build a positive case for sharing information”.

In January 2018, The King’s Fund published a report arguing that fragmentation within the NHS and a lack of resources are stopping the spread of innovation.