In 2023, data, cyber and hybrid working remain the primary focus areas for most digital leaders, particularly within the NHS. Two schemes at the top of the NHS priority list will certainly include the expansion of integrated electronic patient record systems (EPR) and the planned 500% expansion of the virtual wards, with the goal of treating up to 50,000 patients a month.
Improving and streamlining the healthcare sector’s digital offering will be key to tackling pressing issues within the service, such as record high wait times and referral wait periods.
COVID-19 advanced digital healthcare
Of course, an equally important question will be whether each trust has the existing technological capacity to successfully implement these schemes, and if not, whether sufficient funding will be made available to ensure their delivery.
While the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly pushed forward digital innovation within the healthcare sector, it also brought to light the serious need for safer, more secure and efficient systems. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recently announced plan to treat more than half a million patients a year in ‘virtual’ hospital wards will be a particular area of importance for data protection, privacy and accessibility, given the transfer of large quantities of personal data.
Digital healthcare and data
Healthcare organisations looking to capitalise on their data in the most efficient and profitable ways possible will need to invest in scalable and cost-effective digital architecture and tooling, capable of adapting to projects of different sizes and demands. Scalable architecture will be key as hybrid working and virtual treatments become the norm.
But the risk of human error is increased without the presence of traditional physical and office-based controls and checks.
Similarly, the larger the system, the greater the attack surface. NHS trusts handling vast quantities of data will need to look for different ways to secure this data in order to provide an easy user interface for healthcare staff, accessing the data in real-time, as well as sophisticated technical safeguards. The implementation of the new NHS Integrated Care Systems is expected to resolve these issues; however, it is unclear how this will be carried out in practice.
Byline by Joanna Smith, Digital Advisory Lead at Lexica