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Spurred onto help NHS colleagues amid family crisis

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Rachel Murphy - chief executive of Difrent

The Covid-19 Home Testing Service was rolled out in eight days and got thousands of people back into work. Rachel Murphy, chief executive of Difrent, tells Health Tech World how they achieved such a quick turnaround, and why the NHS is very special to her family

Solving complex problems and delivering health care solutions comes naturally to Rachel Murphy, but she has a passion for the NHS from a very personal perspective.

Her 14-year old step-daughter Charlotte became a triple amputee because of sepsis and she spent 12 months in hospital, four of those in intensive care. She now faces another battle as she prepares for a kidney transplant.

“The care she received completely blew my mind and I have a love affair with the NHS,” she said.

“It gave me the motivation to want to give something back, I realised how incredibly important having this quality of care is.”

Rachel has been at the forefront of Difrent since 2017, which specialises in business change. She has delivered digital services for national organisations such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and was digital delivery director at NHS Digital.

“Difrent is a strategic collective filled with digital transformation specialists. In other words we help flip organisations on their head so innovation, creativity and excellence become synonymous with the company and the services it provides, ” she said.

She set up Difrent because she wanted to find a company who could successfully understand user needs, service design and delivery.

“I’ve got an amazing team of people around me who understand what our values are and our ethos. We’re aligned to our values and there’s a deep sense of purpose within us,” she said.

She was instrumental in centralising all recruitment across the NHS, which has created tens of thousands of jobs on a recruitment platform for huge numbers of NHS health organisations.

“It’s made a massive difference having one platform for vacancies and will produce huge cost savings,” she said.

“We want to achieve big outcomes with health and social care partners, and really transform digital services,” she said.

The big challenge last year was to produce the Covid-19 Home Testing Service within eight days which ultimately led to key workers being able to return to work in hospitals, schools and other sectors.

“We needed to work with multiple partners like Amazon as quickly as possible. We need to work around the clock so we worked split shifts and it was extremely tiring but it would have been much more stressful sitting about doing nothing as we were desperate to help out.

“We were very well placed to help out and team really wanted to make a difference.

“In fact the team received a letter from Boris Johnson thanking them for the work, and it would be very hard to recreate that sense of achievement.”

Difrent’s team of user researchers, service designers, delivery managers and more have worked in partnership with Government and Health organisations including NHSBSA, NHSX, Public Health England, WHO, and DHSC. Services include Wardley Mapping, Rich Pictures, and remote-first change programme and service delivery.

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