FutureGov is excited to be working with NHS England and NHS Digital, designing a vision for better urgent and emergency care. Together, we aim to uncover and prioritise the opportunities where digital can make the most impact to deliver better outcomes for patients and staff, and help people live healthier lives for longer.

There is a real opportunity for digital to take an end-to-end, person-centred approach that cuts across care services, channels and the ecosystem of commissioners and providers. Our shared ambition is to design integrated journeys and a roadmap for change, so that anyone experiencing an urgent or emergency episode can get the right help, in the right place, the first time.

FutureGov, NHS England and NHS Digital are working together as a blended team, with diverse roles including clinical, design, digital, change, delivery and data.

Sam Shah, the Director for Digital Development at NHS England and Senior Responsible Officer for this programme, introduced this crucial work in a great post, first shared on the NHS Digital blog, and added below.

By Dr Sam Shah

As the digitisation of healthcare continues to evolve with new products, tools and services being introduced every day, it is vital that we reflect on what this means for patients now and in the future. Digital technology is part of healthcare delivery and we need to ensure we deliver services with the right design so patients get the right care in the right place when they need it most.

Over the past few years, we have seen the NHS introduce many new digital tools and services. I recently wrote about the consequences of digitising the health service based on convenience rather than actual needs.

I still see decisions being made every day, that start with either a process we want to introduce or the technology that is perceived to be important. For example, the starting point is often interoperability, video consultation, and AI; but not so much emphasis on the underlying problems we want to solve or the outcome we’re looking to achieve.

I also see technology being introduced into existing single services in the system e.g. 111, 999, emergency departments (a service-centric view), rather than designing technology to improve a patient’s experience and outcomes, which can span multiple channels and services (a patient-centric view).

We need to design our future NHS in a way that is as citizen-centric as the one started in 1948. We have no shortage of vision, ambition and good ideas. But we need to make some hard choices about what to focus on and where to prioritise our efforts. This is why we have started a user-centred research and service design project working with NHS England and NHS Digital. This will help us identify opportunities where digital (tools, channels, technology, data, ways of working) has the potential to make the most impact on patient and staff experience, improving outcomes and creating system efficiencies in urgent and emergency care.

One of the goals in the NHS Long Term Plan is to design and reduce pressure on emergency services. Working in partnership with FutureGov our multi-disciplinary team will give us the potential to reframe how we think about opportunities for data and technology to deliver better care and to relieve system pressures and reduce the friction in urgent and emergency care. We will map the end-to-end patient and staff experience, identifying where digital can make the most impact and bring the future vision to life through prototypes. We want to immerse ourselves into the lived experience of patients and staff to work out what it is they really need, their touchpoints in the health system and synthesise key pain points so we can better design and deliver urgent and emergency care services around individuals. To make this a reality we will triangulate qualitative research, data science and desk research.

Like much of the NHS, the urgent and emergency care system is complex and fragmented, with many care settings, providers and organisations involved, and service models that differ around the country. We will create an ecosystem map to better understand system flows, demand, IT software, care settings and the relationships between them.

Being armed with this knowledge means we can then make more informed decisions. We are building the vision for future urgent and emergency care services by placing user experience and research at the centre of the design process so we can meet the needs of people.

Colleagues from across NHS England and NHS Digital will be working with FutureGov who demonstrate the value of person-centred design, digital and change in transforming public services.

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