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Introducing the NHSX Digital Playbook for Gastroenterology: Where are we now and where are we going?

Updated on: 26 Jul 2021   First published on 23 Jul 2021

Author:  Dr Buhussain Hayee 

I am really excited to present the first iteration of the NHSX Digital Playbook for Gastroenterology. This was a significant effort by the Innovation team in NHSX, pulling together expertise and experience from around the UK in aspects of care spanning the whole patient pathway. It is one of 8 Playbooks so far, and the breadth of specialties and clinical scenarios is growing, but also we will look to update each Playbook, and hope that the clinical community will engage with us to do so.

The Playbooks are a great initiative because they are created by healthcare professionals’ own experiences. We are capturing real-world case studies with supporting evidence to showcase how the NHS has implanted digital products (digital tech, devices, software, apps) that have proven potential to transform healthcare pathways.

It is worth pausing here to add that, in the enthusiasm for digital transformation, we are not talking about wholesale replacement or seismic shifts in how we are being asked to deliver care to our patients – just picking the right tools for the right patient and making the most of the 21st century technology that is out there. We should not be looking to replace a paternalistic model of healthcare where patients are dependent on clinical teams, merely to do this over the phone or over a video-call where it works for that patient. In many ways, that could and would lead to deteriorations in care as people on both sides of the consultation tried to get to grips with unfamiliar ways of working (and we have seen that over the course of the last 18 months of the pandemic). What digital transformation should aim to do is to foster a situation where value is added to clinical care, pathways are made more efficient, clinical consultations are enriched, and – above all – quality of life and satisfaction is improved (for all!). With the right tools, data can then be used as a strategic asset, not only by patients themselves (to gain insights into how their day-to-day activities: sleep; rest; exercise; medication for instance, affect their health), but also by their caregivers and the wider health economy to plan care and resource allocation.

The Playbooks are there to be a trusted resource. Anyone involved in the delivery of healthcare, from commissioners to clinicians and allied health professionals, who is interested in digital transformation in their specialty can use the playbooks as a resource, and contact fellow NHS staff who have had real-world experience of deploying the products highlighted. Combining the playbooks with the support of the DTAC (Digital Technology Assessment Criteria) and other resources like the Buyer’s guide to AI, will reassure colleagues that due diligence has been undertaken on their behalf. We hope that this serves to support the adoption of digital tech at regional and local levels.

With the Gastro Playbook, we have highlighted tools and tech spanning the outpatient pathway, including patient – and clinician – facing products that we hope will prove useful or, at the very least, open the doors to future innovation.

That brings me to the other ‘hidden’ goals of the Playbooks initiative: to engage the developer and clinical community in understanding what is out there; horizon scanning; facilitating contact to allow co-creation of new products or rapid road-testing with enthusiastic clinical partners. Where possible, we would love to be able to use the resource and energy that we are privileged to have within NHSX to help all of these processes. To that end, I am absolutely thrilled that the Innovation team have created the follow-on from our work An Adoption Fund. We will be announcing this call for expressions of interest very soon, seeking applications for a couple of key projects and pathways already highlighted in the current version of the Playbook, which chime with national targets (rare for Gastro as a specialty!). Please do watch this space for more!

Bu’Hussain Hayee, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Clinical Advisor, NHSX


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