How to cultivate a digital-first culture in healthcare

How to cultivate a digital-first culture in healthcare

4 minutes

03rd May 2024

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Recognising the importance of digital skills

For tech to do what it’s meant to do, it needs to be used by people with the right skills and capabilities.


That’s true across all sectors, but especially in healthcare, where digital innovation is helping make patient care more effective and accessible to all.


61% of healthcare decision-makers we surveyed for our recent report ‘Bridging the digital gap in UK healthcare’ believe digital skills are crucial to the productivity and efficiency of NHS staff.*


With the introduction of integrated care systems (ICSs), the fast adoption of technology across the NHS has reached a new intensity.


Adoption of technology in healthcare

Whilst this is unlocking new capabilities and efficiencies for healthcare workers, the rise in the number and complexity of digital tools comes with a very real risk. Overwhelm your employees and the wave of tech may leave them behind.


How can you ensure your employees have what they need to make the most of the vast range of digital tools available to them?


From rigorous upskilling to data security, let’s look at how to embed a more digital-first culture and help your employees get more from their digital tools.

Understand your existing tech limitations

41% of healthcare decision makers surveyed in our report cite resistance to change as a significant barrier to tech adoption.


The first step to overcoming that resistance is to ensure you understand the full breadth of your current tech stack and where bottlenecks lie.


Identifying how your staff use the tools available to them and what may be holding them back from their full potential will make it easier to get their buy-in on new investments and upgrades.


For some, this could be identifying the need for new devices or tools. For others, it could be getting them on board with a digital skills initiative to give back to communities in need, such as our Connect More programme.

Overcoming cultural resistance to change

In other cases, this could be a more substantial upgrade. For example, we worked with the Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust to create a new strategy to help improve digital skills amongst staff and replace legacy technology.


With better connectivity, smarter processes and digital education, the trust has improved its performance and overall employee wellbeing.


That’s because the tech they implemented was designed to address their specific obstacles.


To overcome a cultural resistance to change, you first need to understand what’s causing it. Armed with that knowledge, you can invest for a smarter future.

Close your staff’s digital skills gap

39% of NHS decision makers we surveyed don’t yet appreciate the importance of upskilling, despite the benefits it delivers for patients and staff alike.


That can be a real problem, because a lack of digital skills doesn’t just mean an inability to keep up with innovation. It also leads to inefficiencies when staff are using your current tech stack.


In fact, 52% of healthcare workers we surveyed believe their organisations have outdated software or hardware, and 21% have staff without the latest digital skills to use new technology, according to our public sector Tech Untapped report.


With waiting lists on the rise, the NHS must prioritise training that ensures it can continue to deliver its critical service.

Continuous training and support

One solution is to employ Digital Champion Networks.


These programmes allow NHS organisations to recruit early tech adopters from across generations with the specific aim of promoting technological learning and transformation. Through peer-to-peer learning, these digital champions can support colleagues to learn digital skills or undertake digital learning, development or training.


The key is to ensure that training is rigorous and regular – not just a once off.


Lean on your tech providers to help with this. After all, they are the experts in the tools they implement, so they should be able to ensure your employees know how to use them best.

Take your employees with you on your digital journey

New investment and training can make a crucial difference across the NHS. But are you sure your employees are on board with the progress you’re making?


Talking to front-line workers to get their perspectives is crucial.


For example, we found that clinical staff feel slightly more strongly about the importance of digital upskilling than IT staff – 87% of clinicians compared to 82% of IT staff, according to our new report.


This represents an opportunity to focus digital investment efforts on those who are keenest to learn.

Embracing digital change

You can also ensure your employees feel included by leaning on your connectivity provider to deliver thorough implementation processes. Instead of investing in a new system and leaving your employees to learn themselves, the right provider should provide managed support, from onboarding and tailored transition support to dedicated account teams that can troubleshoot issues.


This will help make your investments work even harder for you and keep you employees feeling empowered to deliver their best care.


As the NHS evolves, the pace of change isn’t letting up.


46% of NHS decision makers surveyed are continuing to prioritise digital investment.


Now is the time to take stock of the digital culture in your organisation and how you can ensure you’re making progress with your employees, not against them.

Ready to cultivate your digital culture?

*Stats taken from survey of 1,000 NHS decision makers undertaken with Censuswide, Jan 2024