A new study has revealed the majority of the UK’s leading health providers are accelerating their digital transformation plans this year in response to the Covid pandemic.

The new study by iGov and BT surveyed 70 organisations across the NHS and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). It found that the healthcare sector is responding to the demand it saw for remote services during the pandemic by pushing ahead with digital transformation plans.

According to the healthcare organisations involved, this acceleration is being driven by a demand in remote services (80%), rising patient expectations (71%) and pressures from the pandemic (65%). As a result, 86% of respondents plan to bring forward timelines to embed better technology infrastructure and adoption.

Despite this desire to accelerate digital services, those who took part in the study revealed they were conscious of the barriers that exist to technology adoption. Concerns over costs (39%) were dwarfed by concerns over cultural resistance (60%). The majority of respondents (98%) said they’d seen a surge in patient demand for remote services – yet 71% were concerned over a lack of adequate skills and access to digital services by their patients and other healthcare professionals.

Professor Sultan Mahmud, director of healthcare, BT’s Enterprise unit, said: “It’s fantastic to see the new level of optimism and ambition from NHS colleagues in fast-tracking digital innovation in the aftermath of the pandemic. But we know that there are considerable, resource, technological and cultural challenges which still need to be addressed to reap the benefits of digital innovation. With almost 5 million people waiting for operations in England alone – the highest since 2007 – digital technologies and solutions must be deployed at pace to help the NHS to deliver flexible, personalised, and anticipatory care to patients and release capacity wherever possible.”

Digital transformation is very much the buzzword for the NHS, as they head out of the pandemic. Earlier this year we reported on plans by NHS England to create a new transformation directorate to bring together both digital and operational improvement teams, with NHSX being merged as part of it.