Digital transformation without limits - Newsletter 1

Digital transformation without limits - Newsletter 1

Following the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan, Simon Eccles reflects on the challenges ahead

A tremendous amount of work went into the development of the NHS’s Long-Term Plan, launched in January 2019. It sets out our vision of a fully integrated digital health and care system, supported by high-quality digital tools, data and technology. The plan was well received by both the public and the system. We now need to deliver it.

The ability to join up patient information from multiple settings, with its meaning intact, is at the heart of the digital transformation we want to achieve. Whether you are a patient with a long-term condition or a clinician treating someone in A&E, the inability to get hold of all the right information is incredibly frustrating. Worse than that, a lack of information can endanger people’s health through poor coordination or inappropriate treatment. The NHS Long Term Plan makes crystal clear that we want local and health and care record systems to provide a single joined up view of a person’s heath record in every area of the country in the next five years.

To achieve this there are seven issues that I remain focussed on resolving. These are:



The NHS spends approximately £6 billion a year on medical technology, also known as MedTech.

The World Health Organisation defines MedTech as ‘an article, instrument, apparatus or machine that is used in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness or disease, or for detecting, measuring, restoring, correcting or modifying the structure of function of the body for some health purpose.’

It is an industry that accounts for over 86,000 jobs in the UK, almost a third of which are within small companies, and supports an additional 24,600 services and supply roles.

The AHSN Network has now published a major new report into this important industry.

The MedTech Landscape Review  focuses on the MedTech innovation pathway providing  signposting to key organisations who can offer up-to-the-minute advice and outlining the work the 15 AHSNs across the country are doing to support innovators.

Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) were first licensed in 2013 and have become a vital part of the country’s health economy, connecting and brokering partnerships between health and care, academia, the third sector and industry.

The AHSNs have established a MedTech Innovation National Network (INN) to enhance the awareness and support given to the MedTech sector in England and to accelerate the development of innovations and their adoption by the NHS.

A focus for the AHSN Network is on identifying and supporting innovations with the potential to scale up and achieve significant population-level impacts in the NHS within the next five to 10 years. This means working with industry associations such as the Association of British HealthTech industries (ABHI) and the British In Vitro Diagnostic Association (BIVDA) to accelerate the development of a flourishing market by pulling through successful innovations into mainstream use.

The AHSN Network also delivers the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA). This is an NHS England initiative that supports the uptake and spread of high impact, evidence-based innovations across England’s NHS, benefitting patients, populations and NHS staff.

Through the partnership with the AHSN Network, the NIA supports ‘Fellows’ to spread their high impact, evidence-based innovations across England’s NHS, benefitting staff, patients and populations.


This week saw the announcement of the latest cohort of the NIA’s 13 new Fellows and Innovations for 2019.

Some of these Fellows will be speaking at the Health+Care show, 13.50 to 14.20 on Thursday June 27 in the Finance, Efficiency and Procurement Theatre. The session will focus on digital tools that can help cut costs in secondary care.

Since launching in July 2015, the NIA has delivered:

  • 1,700 additional NHS sites using NIA innovations
  • £79m external funding raised
  • 287 jobs created
  • 74 awards won
  • 21 innovations selling internationally

The importance of AHSNs in the successful spread of innovations is documented in a King’s Fund study and this role was given a further renewed vote of confidence in the new NHS Long Term Plan.

AHSNs are supporting the NHS to deliver a step-change in the rapid identification, adoption and spread of best practice, clinical innovations and new technologies to meet the challenges set out in the Long Term Plan.

Removing barriers and streamlining approaches for the adoption of innovative products will benefit patients by making services more convenient, easier to access and will improve the quality and consistency of care across patient pathways.



Useful links:

Meet the new NHS NIA Fellows

Video blog by Jimmy Endicott (ChatHealth) on his journey to becoming an NIA Fellow and how his local AHSN supported him. Watch it here:



We believe that supporting the leading digital healthcare show in the UK is important to breaking down the barriers between clinical and non-clinical silos, focusing on the importance of inter disciplinary collaboration working around the needs of patients and citizens to deliver better care.

This year, BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has continued to focus on supporting initiatives that develop the capability and professionalism of health and care informatics, these initiatives are focussed on helping people transform health and care. 

We’ve worked with partners to establish a set of professional standards governed by FEDIP, the Federation of Informatics Professionals. A professional register which has enabled us to demonstrate our commitment to being part of delivering better care to the individual alongside our clinical colleagues and grow a community of professionally committed and passionate people, eager to raise the standards of IT professionals in healthcare.

You may have also seen our partnership to bring a CHIME chapter to the UK, this allows us to provide access in the UK to CHIME education and its internationally recognized qualification CHCIO. It also demonstrates our commitment to supporting the NHS deliver digital leaders for the future.

The Digital Healthcare Show is an essential meet up in the health and care calendar. It provides a forum for leaders and the workforce across the NHS and wider industry to learn from change programmes supporting the implementation of technology and the development of people. This is your opportunity to take ideas and relationships back to your own organisations that can help to transform services to citizens. 

As the professional body for IT professionals in the UK, BCS are helping to shape this year’s programme as part of the organising committee, as well as our own on stand ‘explainer’ sessions, focussing on workforce development and the wider professional landscape, supporting all active members of the IT community, from those on the ground up to leadership teams.

We encourage members of BCS and the wider healthcare network to come to the ExCel on 26-27 June 2019 and join the community in sharing ideas and making new relationships that will help you make an impact in your local organisation.

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27-28 April 2021 | ExCeL London