Westminster Health Forum

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Digital healthcare and new technologies in the NHS - system transformation, overcoming barriers to adoption and addressing key healthcare challenges

Morning, Wednesday, 30th June 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is examining the development of digital healthcare within the NHS. 

Delegates will discuss options and measures that can be taken to accelerate uptake, and overcome barriers to implementation for key technologies, and assess the potential they hold for addressing healthcare challenges.

The discussion is taking place alongside:

  • reforms being proposed in the Government’s recent white paper on health and social care, and in the subsequent Health and Care Bill, designed to enable the improved use of innovation in the NHS
  • ambitions for the uptake and use of technology set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, which the white paper and Bill aim to support
  • the experience of digital healthcare and technology playing an important role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The agenda focuses on:

  • progress and the way forward - the uptake of technology in the NHS so far, and next steps for improving patient access to innovation
  • driving uptake and mitigating variation - what have been the key enablers and what further action is required
  • recovery from the pandemic - next steps for innovation, the role of the NHS Innovation Accelerator, and positioning the NHS to support improved technology use

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the Prime Minister’s Office; the DHSC; the Joint Biosecurity Centre; DCMS; DIT; DfT; the Department of Health (ROI); the NAO; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government; as well as parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons.

The agenda:

  • Progress in implementing digital transformation in the NHS
  • Learning from the digital response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Adapting to the new normal - some reflections for the workforce
  • Assessing opportunities presented by digital healthcare - taking a remote-first approach, managing conditions, meeting integration ambitions, improving sustainability, and utilising data and AI
  • Integrated local health and care - the role of digital technology in delivering improvement
  • Supporting innovation and access to new technologies, and what it could mean for health and social care
  • Scaling up and widening adoption across health and social care - funding, infrastructure, collaboration, and involving clinicians and patients
  • Next steps for delivering innovation in health and care in the recovery from the pandemic

Areas for discussion:

Learning from the response to COVID-19:

  • the role of technology:
    • how digital health and technology have been mobilised in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic
    • how well it was able to rise to the challenge
    • what can be learned for the future
  • the potential - assessing the significance of advances made in digital health:
    • what has been achieved so far as a result of the pandemic
    • how can this be built upon going forward, particularly around the development of:
      • a remote-first approach
      • the use of technology to monitor and manage long-term health conditions
      • the role of technology in online consultations, such as remote imaging
      • the possibility of vaccine passports
    • implications on the workforce of an increased use of technology
    • lessons to take forward for NHS implementation, and priorities for future use
  • maintaining momentum - the way forward for implementing advances made in technology development and use during the pandemic:
    • achieving progress at pace and scale - learning from the ways that advancements were able to be made quickly
    • tackling unnecessary bureaucracy
    • ensuring that pandemic-driven advancements are safe and effective
    • putting in place the support and infrastructure required for sustainable and long-term digital integration

The potential for addressing key healthcare challenges - opportunities, obstacles, and meeting long-term ambitions:

  • integrated care systems - the use of technology in enabling the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan for integration and the development of localised systems of healthcare:
    • progress so far - the role of technology in supporting the development and coordination of health and care across local areas
    • leadership - what is required at local system level to deliver improvements in the use of technology, and how can it be facilitated and developed
    • local impact - the role of technology in enabling and monitoring health improvements at the local system level
  • triage:
    • efficiencies that digital technology can create both for NHS staff and for patients
    • ensuring safety in the use of technology
    • assessing the challenges and practicalities around building a remote-first approach into processes and procedures
  • addressing the backlog of procedures:
    • priorities for the design of information systems and data use
    • analytics and identifying acute areas of congestion and concern
    • remote consultation, and the development of treatments that can be self-administered
  • improved outcomes:
    • latest developments and next steps for the use of technology in delivering improved diagnosis, personalised care, treatment, and surgery, as well as helping deliver on ambitions set out in the Long Term Plan
    • opportunities for remote monitoring, and developing more effective and efficient intervention and prevention
  • population health:
    • identifying and accessing hard-to-reach groups in society, and the delivery of health improvements
    • addressing health inequalities and developing a preventative approach to healthcare
  • the path to net-zero - how technology can help support sustainability in health and care, and its role in meeting net-zero targets for the NHS

Adoption and scaling up the use of technology:

  • developing guidance and best practice - taking a collaborative approach to regulation and guidance, and enabling access to innovation:
    • supporting the development of new technologies, their safe application and identifying their potential in addressing healthcare challenges
    • the role of NICE - assessing their new strategy and approach to evaluating technology, and the degree to which this provides the support required for improving access to innovation going forward
    • the Accelerated Access Collaborative - assessing its impact, and the role of collaborative approaches in delivering the change required going forward
  • workforce training and support:
    • enabling the workforce to adapt to the rapid and increased use of technology
    • further ways to provide support and education in order to respond and adapt to the use of digital technology becoming the new normal in healthcare, including proposals in the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill
  • patient priorities:
    • the role of patients in technology development, as well as fine-tuning its use
    • addressing digital inequality
  • utilising data and AI:
    • maximising the role of analytics and machine learning in the wider healthcare agenda
    • priorities for the safe and transparent use of data
    • opportunities for cross-sector collaboration in analysis to deliver health improvements
    • further integrating technology to improve patient experience, such as reducing waiting times and hospital admissions
  • key enablers and barriers to adoption:
    • funding - priorities for channelling support to meet healthcare needs, and the impact of recently announced investment to further support hospitals to deliver digital ambitions
    • bureaucracy - its impact on slowing development, and how this can be addressed, including lessons from streamlined processes adopted during the pandemic
    • infrastructure requirements - what is needed to enable the rollout and adoption of technology, and progress in development at a local level, as well as in joining up care pathways
    • transparency - ensuring data is used and kept in a safe way

Relevant developments:

  • Integration and innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all - the Government’s white paper:
    • introducing reforms to support the integration of care in local systems
    • proposing changes and removal of barriers to improve the uptake of innovation in the system
  • Queen’s Speech 2021 - outlining plans for skills and technological expansion, with:
    • the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, which will realign training around employer needs to fill skills gaps, including in digital skills
    • opportunities to improve collaboration and integration, and aid innovation, including proposals in the Health and Care Bill that build on proposals in the white paper
  • the NHS Long Term Plan - which includes:
    • ambitions including improving patient access to innovation, and the better use of technology within the NHS
    • wider aims to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, along with opportunities for the use of technology to achieve them
    • the establishment of integrated care systems in order to deliver ambitions of more efficient and joined up care
  • Reviewing our process for health technology evaluation - NICE consultation on flexibility to improve the process of evaluating health technology, as well as the upcoming launch of its five-year strategy
  • NICE’s Office for Digital Health - launched as part of NICE’s five-year strategy, to allow for appraisal flexibility on new and emerging technologies
  • NHS Innovation Accelerator - which supports innovators and is delivered with AHSNs to enable the scaling up of innovation to address healthcare challenges, with:
    • the innovators for 2021 recently announced
    • a dedicated response set up for the COVID-19 pandemic where innovations were aligned to meet priorities identified in the third phase of the NHS response to COVID-19
  • Digital Aspirant Programme in NHSX - the second wave of investment to support NHS trusts with implementing their digital strategies and sharing learning
  • Driving Digital in the NHS - the recent speech from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, outlining:
    • the advances that have been made in technology use during the pandemic
    • how this digital transformation can be driven forward to address healthcare challenges
  • NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative - set up to enable faster access to innovation for patients through joining up processes and linking innovators with the NHS and decision makers
  • The Digital Workplace: Hardware Framework - a two year procurement framework launched by NHS Shared Business Services to support NHS and public sector organisations in purchasing cost-effective IT hardware, with estimates that it could save the NHS £250m
  • Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service - which sets out how to meet ambitions for the NHS to be net-zero by 2040, including:
    • details on the relationship between technology and the net-zero agenda
    • with digital-enabled care able to provide efficiencies, but the continued need to ensure low carbon emissions in the transformation

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons and officials from the Prime Minister’s Office; the Cabinet Office; the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport; the Department of Health and Social Care; Department for International Trade; the Department for Transport; Department of Health (ROI); the Joint Biosecurity Centre; the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency; the Ministry of Justice; the National Audit Office; the Office for Life Sciences; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from regulators, pharmaceutical companies, representatives from the NHS, executive agencies including clinical staff, local authorities, medical technology companies, academic health science networks, pharmacists, local health systems, the independent and third sectors, patients groups, law firms, consultancies, and others affected by the issues discussed as well as academics and think tanks, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Dr Amanda Begley

Co-Founder and National Director, NHS Innovation Accelerator and Director of Innovation and Implementation, UCLPartners

Keynote Speakers

Andreas Haimböck-Tichy

Chair, Health and Social Care Council, techUK and Director for Ecosystems, IBM UK and Ireland

Karen Taylor

Director, Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, Deloitte UK

Alan Davies

Innovative Programmes and Partnerships Director, Innovation, Digital and Transformation Directorate, Health Education England

Dr Amanda Begley

Co-Founder and National Director, NHS Innovation Accelerator and Director of Innovation and Implementation, UCLPartners


Paul Bristow MP

Member of the Health and Social Care Committee and Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Digital Health


Rachel Hutchings

Researcher, Nuffield Trust

Ruth Bradbury

Senior NHS Navigator, DigitalHealth.London

Stephen Docherty

Industry Executive, Health, Microsoft

Fiona Edwards

Chief Executive and Lead, Frimley Integrated Care System

Ben Bridgewater

Chief Executive, Health Innovation Manchester

Dr Rishi Das-Gupta

Chief Executive, Health Innovation Network (South London AHSN)

Dr Umang Patel

Managing Director, Value Based Care (UK & EU), Babylon

Andrew Davies

Digital Health Lead, ABHI

Professor Tim Hubbard

Professor of Bioinformatics, Kings College London; Associate Director, Health Data Research UK London Site; and Head of Genome Analysis, Genomics England

Emma Stone

Director of Design, Research and Communications, Good Things Foundation