Sarah Wilkinson has been named the most influential person in UK IT in 2021.
The NHS Digital chief executive was crowned the winner of Computer Weekly’s UKtech50 at the end of February.
Wilkinson joined NHS Digital as chief executive in 2017. She was previously chief technology officer at the Home Office and head of corporate systems technology at Credit Suisse.
As part of her role she oversees digital transformation strategies in the health and social care setting, data collection and has led a team on a large programme of work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
This included ensuring fast access to accurate data, supporting research projects with deep data analysis and expertise, and ensuring that rich data visualisation was available for experts to swiftly understand the progression of the pandemic.
NHS Digital’s work has helped identify the additional risks of coronavirus for people from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background; mapped cases across the country using 111 data; and designed and run the Shielded Patients List.
In an interview with Digital Health News last year, Wilkinson said the pandemic had shone a light on the importance of digital services, adding that healthcare technology was “here to stay” after the crisis.
She said NHS Digital had been “empowered” after “time-consuming blockers” fell away as the NHS ramped up its effort to use digital services as the coronavirus threat increased.
Recently Wilkinson also oversaw the largest known public sector data network transition programme, moving hundreds of NHS and social care sites from a legacy data network to an updated version which is expected to save the heath service £75million a year.
About 12,000 sites belonging to 950 NHS, social care, private sector and local authority organisations were moved from the legacy N3 network to the new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN).
Under Wilkinson’s leadership NHS Digital has also begun to expand its horizons, recently signing a deal with DXC Technology and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, to help improve data sharing across different organisations.
Learning from other countries success at using data to build interoperable systems, the allow buyers to share code system reference data from a central NHS Digital Terminology Server enabling easier integration of local coding systems with national and international coding languages.
It provides a single-supplier procurement framework that will give health and care organisations across the UK an efficient route to procure a terminology server.
Wilkinson’s work in national digital programmes also saw her named as one of the Global Top 100 Data Visionaries by HotTopics. She was also named the second most influential woman in UK IT in 2017 as part of Computer Weekly’s ’50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech 2017’.
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