Digital Transformation in the NHS

9th July 2019

Digital Transformation in the NHS

With the face-paced and ever-changing time that we’re living in, the push on Digital Transformation within the NHS is important, now more than ever. The NHS Long Term Plan aims to not only give people more control over their health and care by providing the right digital tools and services, but also gives health care professionals the technology to help complete administrative tasks quicker, enabling them to focus more time to patients.


One of the key steps that have been taken is access to the NHS Apps Library, in which patients and health professionals can access over 70 approved apps and ranges from category specific options (diabetes assistance or Mental Health) to more general apps that can help you find the right treatment when you’re feeling unwell. In addition to what is currently available, the goal is for patients to be able to access the NHS 111 service online, as well as booking appointments in hospitals and GP, and accessing their GP records.

“While we have had our eyes on the future, and take pride in our past, the NHS must always be rooted in the present.”

 Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England

 The Aim of Digital Transformation

Reducing strain on the health service by minimising GP appointments and visits to A&E for non-emergency purposes is the primary focus for the Digital Transformation section of the Long Term Plan. Becoming more digital in the way patient care is delivered will give the opportunity to access certain services online to help people to stay well, to recognise important symptoms early on, and for individuals to manage their own health with the guidance of the right digital tools.


Figures like the below highlight the benefits we are already seeing because of the development of digital services:


– Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) is now used in 93% of England’s 7,300 GP practices, with more than 67% of prescriptions being delivered via EPS

– Digital access has saved the NHS £136 million in the 3 years from 2013 – 2016 [1]

– Ability to book hospital and GP appointments is expected to save the NHS an excess of £50 million a year


In 2019 we are also seeing an increase in the number of adults using the internet in comparison to previous years:


– 99% of 16 to 44-year olds in the UK have used the internet in the last 3 months

– 47% of adults over the age of 75 have used the internet in the last 3 months, up from 20% in 2011

– Internet use by 65 to 74-year olds has increased from 52% in 2011 to 83% in 2019 [2]

Another objective of the Long Term Plan is to expand and develop the Diabetes Prevention Programme to offer digital access from 2019, with platforms such as Diabetes Book & Learn already providing this service in south London, a good example of interoperability with patient records in EMIS Health and Vision made available to providers of diabetes education. The ability to find courses or groups to educate yourself about diabetes once being diagnosed helps to streamline care and communication between patients and professionals. 

Returning to Simon Stevens statement, we believe Interoperability and digital transformation is both the present and the future.  The trick is staying ahead whilst supporting patients to both benefit and keep up with the fast-pace of change.