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Positivity towards healthcare’s digital transformation reaches record levels – report

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Annual Digital Health Intelligence NHS IT Leadership Survey shows positive support for digital healthcare

Positive attitudes towards healthcare’s digital transformation has reached record levels, according to the annual Digital Health Intelligence NHS IT Leadership Survey.

The survey aims to gain insight into the priorities, concerns and challenges faced by NHS chief clinical information officers, chief information officers and other relevant digital health leaders.

It revealed that 83% of respondents said the pandemic had resulted in a more positive attitude to digital among board members, up from 63% in the previous year.

Additionally, 85% of respondents said their organisation now offered online video consultation with healthcare professionals, up from 25%.

However, just 24% are expecting a significant rise in funding and 14% think budgets will decrease.

Saffron Cordery, NHS Providers deputy chief executive, said: “We know the pandemic has galvanised the NHS into adopting new digital technologies.

“Many trusts are now reappraising their digital strategies in order to pursue a more ambitious digital agenda. But in order to do this, the sector must be supported with appropriate access to funding – both capital and revenue – in order to invest in new digital capabilities, both in terms of new technologies but also digital teams.

“We welcomed last month’s spending review which saw an extra £3bn for NHS budgets. This is a good start, but this funding is prioritised for tackling backlogs in planned care and alleviating pressures in mental health services. If we are to sustain momentum on the digital agenda, trusts must be supported to back their digital ambitions too.”

Jon Hoeksma, Chief Executive of Digital Health Intelligence, added: “NHS organisations have responded fantastically to the crisis with some citing that they have made four years of digital progress in just four weeks.

“We have seen dramatic acceleration in access to widespread remote working and to some digital patient services

“But reality remains that acceleration of progress has been confined to very specific areas. There is still very limited confidence that healthcare IT budgets are sufficient to cover business priorities, something which has remained remarkably stubborn in the five years we have run this survey.

“The financial pressures that exist at trust level must be addressed to maintain momentum on digital transformation.”

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