Home / Resources & Guidance / Digital strategy – Do you actually need one?

By Daniel Casson, Digital Adviser to Care England

To cut short the suspense – the answer is yes.

I have recently spoken to two Care England members both of whom are making exceptional progress in their use of digital solutions in care. Their use of care records, HR planning, recruitment, eMAR systems and back office systems are exemplary. They have set up impressive communications systems to allow communication with families and with other people who form the support teams around the people in care homes, such as doctors, pharmacists and physiotherapist or speech therapists to name but a few.

From talking to these two and to others I have tried to classify the four basic types of tech you are making centre stage in your support for people. They are:

  • Person facing (e.g. remote monitoring, care records, eMAR).
  • Back office (e.g. finance, property maintenance).
  • Communications (e.g. Facebook, WhatsApp, MS Teams).
  • Sharing data (e.g. with hospitals, GPs and families).

What I am encouraging you to do now, even at this difficult time is to take a small step back, to review, plan and implement a digital strategy which takes into account the progress made over the last few months. One of our members, who I have been most impressed with, came to me specifically to discuss their digital development strategy as part of their overall development strategy. I now have regular meetings with the digital development teams at NHSX and am privileged to have some insight in which areas will be developed for us all in care, so I was able to tweak some of the member’s ideas and direction of travel.

So what make a digital strategy – what are the areas we should be looking at as we absorb the developments of the last few months and then review and build on them?

The first stage of the audit is to check whether you have the essentials in place: the board/senior management buy-in, a staff team ready to pick up new things, knowledge of the market and tools out there and the resources (people, time, money and intellectual room) to consider the options.

The next stage is the Readiness stage: what do you want to achieve, how will you decide and review the process, what infrastructure will you put in place and how will you measure success. The success here has to be a multifaceted assessment of the value created. A new initiative such as digital transformation has to create value: value for the person (the person being supported and the staff team), for you as an organization in terms of efficiency and quality of care and lastly for the health and care system of which we are all a part.

The final stage is the implementation stage which includes procurement, normalisation and iterative review.

I know it is easy to write these words and in the heat of everyday performance it might seem a luxury to have time to review your digital strategy. However to capitalise on the technological advances we have put in place to deal with this pandemic, I hope there is time for you to:

  • review what you have achieved with new tech;
  • consider how it can transform the way you look at care; and
  • shape the future of the care system we are part of.

Daniel Casson
Digital Adviser to Care England
@CareEngDigital @DigiSocialCare