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A foundational digital strategy for Primary Care

A successful digital strategy marries high-level ambition with everyday ground-level requirements. When the client organisation is in the process of joining a wider ICS, it is crucial that everyone is singing from the same digital hymn sheet.

The Context

The CCG had been operating without a clear digital strategy. As such, individual organisations were acting unilaterally on digital initiatives that were unaligned with overall priorities. The problems had been exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic as the need to deliver digital solutions at pace intensified. Five CCGs had already come together to work as one, and the broader health and care system was moving towards ICS status. Primary Care needed to be ready to align with the newly emerging digital environment.

The strategy would need to address their immediate challenges, including a lack of effective governance, a proliferation of overlapping solutions, and the disaffection of General Practice, who felt disconnected. As well as establishing a new structure and setting in place foundations for future development, it was clear they needed a practical and pragmatic strategy that would be their blueprint for change.

Our Approach

With five CCGs, 28 Primary Care Networks, 150 GP practices, and numerous external stakeholders within the local community, engagement was key. One-to-one interviews with key officers, an extensive series of workshops, and a questionnaire that was made available to all staff ensured a spectrum of voices were heard and that the final strategy reflected what was needed on the ground.

We worked in co-production with the client (including clinical representatives), reviewing at each stage, with weekly local signoffs and reporting through the system level governance structures. To ensure leadership buy-in, we continued to work with the client after the strategy had been signed off to assist in the presentation back to key stakeholders.

Result

We delivered a detailed digital strategy that supported the new operating model (which was being developed simultaneously). It set out a clear roadmap for the next two years, addressing the challenges that had been identified through the consultation. It established the foundational governance work that was needed (including detailed team and committee structures with terms of reference), processes for change management and innovation, a separate high-level review of clinical systems, and an outline of a complete overhaul of clinical engagement and leadership in digital services. As such, it created a platform that will allow Primary Care to be active co-leaders in the ICS, aligning with the objectives of its digital strategy. As a ‘North Star’ to guide future development, it is already being put into operational use.

The new model for clinical digital leadership offers a different way of delivering digital projects and services and places our client in the vanguard of clinical informatics. Having worked closely with clinicians and local officers, we were able to support them in understanding this new approach and how it will be the foundation of future clinical transformation.

Sophie Peters

Sophie Peters

Sophie is dedicated to helping NHS organisations succeed in today’s complex operating environments. Hers is an integrated, holistic approach to enabling healthcare systems to do more with less.

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