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Case for Change

8. Our infrastructure does not support our future digital technology ambitions

The NHS in Lancashire and South Cumbria has a well-established reputation as a leader in digital technology adoption. We have already made significant progress in implementing digital innovation and our Covid-19 response is accelerating this change. More than 30% of outpatient appointments are now offered virtually and we have adopted innovations in robotic surgery. We have set out an ambitious digital strategy for change, which harnesses the benefits of technology for patients and staff, underpinned by a system wide approach.

The New Hospitals Programme is an opportunity to maximise the potential of digital in our region’s hospitals to:

  • Improve operational performance
  • Support the delivery of our sustainability
  • Optimise patient care and experience
  • Maximise care closer to home
  • Support us to use our scarce resources more effectively, in particular across sites
  • Reduce the size of the hospital estate footprint.

Embedding the expected impact of digital technology into the fabric of the estate will ensure that new hospital infrastructure is right-sized and will enable smart building specifications to be included from the outset.

It will be a crucial enabler for delivering our ambitions as an integrated care system and for a networked system of Lancashire and South Cumbria hospitals, which can deliver care closer to home.

Digital technology will be a key enabler for realising the integrated care system ambitions and is vital for the delivery of sustainable, high quality, accessible acute care.

We have already made significant progress. The uptake in digital healthcare has been demonstrated within the population of Lancashire and South Cumbria, with almost 500,000 people across the region having downloaded an app that helps them connect with their GP surgery (source: Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership’s Strategy [opens in a new window]).

Covid-19 has been an important catalyst in the adoption of digital outpatient consultations: more than 30% of outpatient (OP) appointments are now being undertaken by video or phone. Robotic surgery systems are currently in use in Lancashire and South Cumbria and their use is accelerating within the field (source: Lane, T. (2018). A short history of robotic surgery. Volume 100, Issue 6, May 2018. Royal College of Surgeons in England (opens in new window). There are also a growing number of international examples of robotic surgery being undertaken remotely and these are exciting potential developments for the future.

As an integrated care system, we have set out an ambitious digital strategy around five key themes, with a focus on making information and data easy to use, and providing functional infrastructure that supports integration across our system. We are working towards an organisationally agnostic approach to create greater flexibility for remote working and ensure a pan-regional integrated care system approach.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen the emergence of digitally facilitated hybrid working – especially amongst the support and managerial staff base. In many instances, this has both increased productivity and delivered savings (in personal commuting time and the payment of travel expenses). There is now the opportunity to make many of these changes to agile working practices permanent, delivering a significant saving and reducing the floor space required for non-patient facing administrative and management • functions.

The diagram below illustrates the five high level collaborative themes, which underpin our digital priority areas.

Figure 18: Five high level collaborative strategic digital themes:

  1. Empower the person
  2. Support the frontline
  3. Integrate services
  4. Manage the system more effectively
  5. Create the future
Illustration of the five inter-connecte themes to improve our health and care in Lancashire and South Cumbria

Source: Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership’s Digital Future Strategy (opens in new window)

The principles underlying each of the five themes are described as follows:

  • Empower the person – developing digital solutions in partnership with the people who will be using them and judging our progress against this digital strategy from the public’s perspective
  • Support the frontline – creating an environment that empowers our frontline
  • Integrate services – using data to prevent, predict and respond to ill-health
  • Managing the system more effectively – working together to reduce complexity, to improve quality and safety and provide care closer to home
  • Create the future – engaging with academia, industry and others to accelerate innovation.

The New Hospitals Programme presents us with an exciting opportunity to maximise the potential of digital technology in our region’s hospitals:

  • New building(s) will interact and interface with the wider care system and other care settings, including social care, whilst supporting home care through monitoring and observations, and assessment by healthcare workers.

  • Patient experience will be enhanced through optimised digital front door, biometric identification systems, self-service check- in, digital signage and wayfinding, together with integrated bedside terminals.

  • Virtual care will be embodied by remote monitoring in the form of telehealth, interfaced with immersive technologies, virtual assistants, digital therapeutics, access to personal health records and telemedicine.

  • Staff engagement will take place through provision of a digital workplace, real-time location systems, digital whiteboards and robotic process automation.

  • Interoperability will support integrated care with care record systems and coordinated care through digital transfer.

  • Automated facilities management will transform the performance of assets, facilities and infrastructure. This will need to be implemented into the building design process.

Benefits innovations will bring

  • Improve operational performance

  • Support the delivery of our sustainability objectives for a net zero carbon NHS

  • Improve patient care and experience

  • Support care closer to home

  • Support us to use our scarce resources more effectively, in particular across sites

  • Reduce the size of the hospital estate footprint.

New infrastructure will provide adaptable space for evolving technology. Embedding the expected impact of digital technology into the fabric of the estate will ensure that the New Hospitals Programme infrastructure is right-sized and enable the smart building specification to be included from the outset.

It will be a crucial enabler for delivering our ambitions as an integrated care system and for a digitally networked system of Lancashire and South Cumbria hospitals, which can deliver care closer to home.

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Find out more on our Information hub

We have lots more details on the project in our Information hub. Read frequently asked questions, the latest news about the programme and stories from people in the region.

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© 2021 Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme.