Digital transformation in the NHS

digital transformation NHS, vital hub UK
© Niccolo Pontigia

The digitalisation of healthcare is upon us, and Mike Sanders, Chief Executive Officer at Vital Hub UK Group of Companies advises on the best ways of providing effective digital care

It is well known that the opportunities and efficiencies offered by digital transformation are crucial for any NHS organisation to remain viable and fit for the future. However, the reality is that digital adoption and acceleration has been a gradual and complex process for the healthcare industry.

Expectations are high for the digitalisation of healthcare. And prior to COVID-19, despite numerous strategies, programmes and reports examining how the UK healthcare industry can improve and standardise digital transformation, change has been slow and fragmented.

Often, we see a disparity in digital maturity within and across different sectors of care, making digital transformation an even greater challenge. Identifying these gaps and prioritising areas for investment and improvement are essential if we are to implement and drive digital change in the long term.

digital transformation NHS, vital hub UK

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the adoption of digital technology at a speed not seen before and saw an astronomical growth in the use of health technology to efficiently deliver safe, high-quality care to patients.

Possibly one of the biggest disruptions stemming from the pandemic is the collaborative approach that has been embraced by providers across entire healthcare economies, which includes unprecedented engagement with third party suppliers. ‘Working together’ has become a top priority, and the expansion of ICSs and a wider care delivery approach has seen integrated care leading the agenda, with its sole aim to address fragmentation in services and enable more coordinated, continuous, and improved care for patients.

Transforming Systems

Supporting this whole system integrated approach to digital healthcare is Transforming Systems. Transforming Systems was established to solve the challenges associated with how you can capture and transform health data from a wide range of sources to provide actionable insights. Through their award-winning SHREWD portfolio of real-time operational management solutions, they are playing a pivotal role in supporting the NHS to implement digital transformation at scale.

The SHREWD platform offers a range of innovative tools to effectively manage patient flow, demand and capacity, whole-system visibility and operational excellence.

SHREWD takes complex digitised data from multiple providers across healthcare systems, from Acute and community trusts to ambulance and primary care, including independent sector providers, and creates instant, automated, whole-system visibility of pressure. This establishes one single version of the truth.

digital transformation NHS, vital hub UK

The utilisation of live data sharing helps to deliver the prescriptive intelligence required to empower decision makers with key information to better co-ordinate and streamline patient care across any geographical footprint.

By providing a critical strategic overview of growing pressure, in both urgent and emergency and elective care pathways, it helps to load balance and support mutual aid transfers between providers, enabling an integrated, tactical response to reduce pressure, resolve delays and improve care delivery services.

digital transformation NHS, vital hub UK


SHREWD Resilience

SHREWD resilience, currently deployed across over 40% of the NHS, is a cloud-based, data visualisation tool that creates instant visibility of escalating pressure and potential impact on demand and capacity for whole health and social care systems. It provides a live helicopter view of pressure in the urgent care system, for all providers, enabling users to identify where support is needed to improve flow and implement effective operational processes.

Data is automated, captured in real time and is accessible via a web interface and smartphone/mobile application so users can inspect the precise reasons driving pressure within just a few clicks. The inbuilt notification system proactively alerts users to situational changes so that action can be taken quickly. This helps to avoid breaches of targets for performance measures and ultimately improves patient care, saves valuable time and maintains patient safety.


To further enhance digital reform, Transforming Systems developed SHREWD Action. This intuitive cloud-based solution compliments SHREWD Resilience by generating automated alerts linked to surge and escalation plans. As pressure starts to escalate, push notifications are sent to designated teams in real time, notifying them of pre-agreed actions that should be implemented at specific points in time. Actions are managed on web or smartphone interfaces and users can update the status of their actions as it happens, from any location, removing duplicated effort and enabling the whole system to view the effectiveness system plans.

This digital approach to system wide actions is helping to reduce variation and maintain best practice, and improve operational performance to provide safer, more effective care, with improved patient flow and greater staff satisfaction.

After a recent deployment of SHREWD at CCG level, an Acute Trust CEO commented; “My favourite app is now our CCG funded new system called SHREWD. It links Acute, Ambulance, Community and Social Care and County Council into a single dashboard, updated regularly, for some organisations every few minutes. We can see ambulance arrivals to the emergency departments, how quickly the patients are being handed over to ED staff, and how many are on their way. We can also see how many patients are in each ED, their waiting time and their acuity. We know long waiting times in our EDs are a symptom of a lack of true alignment of risk, focus & resources and SHREWD is a window into the issues.”

It is the implementation and utilisation of intuitive, agile solutions such as SHREWD that has seen the successful acceleration of digital transformation over the past 18 months, with many healthcare leaders diverging from the cautious ‘wait and see’ approach and embracing, adopting and pioneering new and innovative technologies to improve care delivery.

Please note: This is a commercial profile

© 2019. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license

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