Breaking Barriers

Digital technologies as enablers of change

The realisation of the ambitions behind the STPs constitutes a significant challenge.

However, the potential of digital technology as an enabler of change is also significant – and in many cases unrealised. Greater recognition of this potential and the broader application and use of digital technologies as key enablers in STPs could ensure benefits across a range of areas.
For example:

  • ensuring more intelligent and better use of data, in particular improving the interoperability of data system to enable greater sharing of patient and service user data across systems, organisations and sectors;
  • supporting service users, patients and public to adopt and use new technologies that can enhance their ability to manage their own care and live independently;
  • strengthening integration across health, social care and related public, social and private sectors, whereby digital innovations can be used to break down organisational boundaries;
  • improving procurement systems as a means of supporting greater flexibility and choice in health and social markets;
  • supporting NHS and social care leaders to increase capacity to innovate and develop and adopt new digital technology solutions as part of their strategic implementation plans


The financial crisis in the NHS should not be allowed to prevent or forestall the much-needed investment of effort and resources into digital technologies with the capacity to deliver more responsive, personalised and cost-effective health services.

With this diagnosis, we offer three central recommendations for a healthy digital strategy.
Firstly, guidelines for managing the digital transformation of health service delivery should be formulated and shared across all Clinical Commissioning Groups and the boards of all 44 STPs in England.

Secondly, a new framework for effective data-sharing and information management for health services – perhaps conducted in partnership with the Information Sharing Centre of Excellence – is now required to adapt to the new technological and commercial realities.

Finally, a taskforce led by digital industry experts should lead a commission to investigate ways of boosting capacity for digital innovation in the NHS and social care arenas.

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