Digital Health Networks is an independent grass-roots community of over 3,500 NHS IT and digital health leaders, dedicated to sharing, best practice and collaboration.
The Networks grew out of the 2012 campaign led by EHI (the predecessor to Digital Health) for the creation and appointment of Chief Clinical Information Officers at every NHS trust.
This campaign quickly gained widespread support and led to the successful appointment of the first CCIOs by the end of 2012. The CCIO Network to connect and support these isolated CCIOs, who were beginning to explore this new role, and having to make the argument locally to have sessions funded and supported.
The CCIO Network was soon joined by the sister Health CIO Network, dedicated to NHS IT leaders, and a key campaign theme was that it was a partnership of CCIOs and CIOs in local NHS organsations that was required to drive forward digital change.
Key topics of interest have been the promotion of shared records, interoperability, use of standards and issues around user experience. Notable projects have included the 2014 Newcastle Declaration on Interoperability and 2015 Clinical Software Usability Study (cSUS).
The Networks helped inform the recommendations of the 2016 Wachter Review that marked a watershed in recognising the need to up investment in developing clinical informatics leaders.
At the heart of the Networks is a lively online forum, only accessible by members and operating under the Chatham House rule to encourage free and open discussion. The key annual meeting is the annual July Summer Schools, a hugely popular two-day residential meeting attended by over 400 members in 218, which has become established as the key annual leadership NHS IT event of the year.
The Rewired Leadership Summit is the other main national network event, attracting international keynote speakers and digital leaders from across health and care.
Lively two-day Hack Days form a key element of both Summer Schools and Rewired, connecting NHS IT leaders to developers, future leaders, patients, entrepreneurs and innovators.
These national events are accompanied by an annual programme of Networks regional meetings and webinars, centred on best practice.
From the outset the networks have been led by members, with direction set by advisory panels, elected by members serving two-year terms, that meet virtually each month. The elected CCIO and CIO Network advisory panel members then choose the chair and vice chair.
Hosted by B2B publisher Digital Health Intelligence, the Networks are funded by a combination of sponsorship from leading suppliers, NHS Digital and paid for tickets for Summer Schools.
In 2016 a dedicated CNIO nursing and AHP network was added to the Networks and in 2018 a wider public category of membership was added for all interested in health IT, working for a health service provider.
A further series of specialist networks have also been successfully developed for groups including:
- Caldicott Guardians
- Clinical Risk Officers
- Cyber Security
- Faculty of Clinical Informatics
- NHS Digital Academy
Most recently the Networks have been gaining international interest from European neighbours including Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands and from Commonwealth countries including new Zeeland and Australia.