NHSX provides clear direction to ICSs through their ‘What Good Looks Like (WGLL) framework’ on how they will be supported and assessed against their digital maturity. The ‘Who Pays for What (WPFW)’ statement has been simultaneously released regarding funding initiatives to support this.

What Good Looks Like has seven success measures which are directed at all NHS leaders and are applicable to all care settings. This assessment approach will measure how close to ‘good’ the ICS is in relation to the NHSX digital maturity goals. The peer review regime sets to replace the current self-assessment approach by using peer experience and subjectivity to measure digital maturity, over empirical measures or maturity matrices.

The WGLL framework avoids describing how to achieve ‘good’ against each measure, or even how to measure the current level of maturity, but instead focuses on providing specific, practical, and measurable criteria that an ICS can use to inform their digital strategy – which should be underpinned with the right level of support and funding.

Here are the seven success measures laid out by the NHS in the WGLL framework:

1. Well led – Your ICS has a clear strategy for digital transformation and collaboration.
2. Ensure smart foundations – Digital, data and infrastructure operating environments are reliable, modern, secure, sustainable and resilient.
3. Safe practice – Organisations across the ICS maintain standards for safe care, as set out by the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria for health and social care (DTAC).
4. Support people – Your workforce is digitally literate and are able to work optimally with data and technology.
5. Empower citizens – Citizens are at the centre of service design and have access to a standard set of digital services that suit all literacy and digital inclusion needs.
6. Improve care – Your ICS embeds digital and data within their improvement capability to transform care pathways, reduce unwarranted variation and improve health and wellbeing.
7. Healthy populations – Your ICS uses data to design and deliver improvements to population health and wellbeing, making best use of collective resources.

The Who Pays for What platform initially describes the key barriers to investment in digital technology, importantly including visibility on complex funding arrangements, and then details how NHSX proposes to start to fix them in 2021, 2022 and beyond.

The ‘Unified Tech Fund (UTF)’, part of the Who Pays for What strategy, seeks to simplify and consolidate the process for accessing technology funding by creating this one single funding portal, where a prospectus of projects, guidance to bidders, and individual bid status’ will be visible.

WPFW proposals make a clear statement that ICSs will have considerably more decision-making ability over the allocation of technology funding in their localities moving forward. However, there is further emphasis on the ICS needing to take action to secure funding. The WPFW proposals seek instead to make the right funding easier to find, prepare, and apply for.

Most funding is still capital, and so ICSs will need to continue to create annual budgets against internal revenue and organisational costs. The is also unfortunately no additional monies than previous years. What WPFW does do is provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ to apply for funds that are relevant to ICS-specific needs.

£680 million worth of digital funding streams will be available across two key themes – ‘Digital enablers’ and ‘Digital clinical systems’, as represented in this chart below:

WPFW funding streams – digital enablers and digital clinical systems. Source: NHSX Unified Tech Fund Prospectus published 31st August 2021.

How to prepare

Here are some immediate actions an ICS should take in order to prepare for this new NHSX direction:

– Create or enhance your ICS digital road map and digital route map. These will be fundamental tools to demonstrate what your local plans are
– Engage with your stakeholders and prepare for discussions on funding digital initiatives
– Read through the WGLL framework and WPFW proposals with a fine comb and develop a deep understanding of these new initiatives
– Review the ‘prospectus of projects’ outlined in the Unified Tech Fund prospectus. Applications will be open for submission on 31st August 2021 and will close after 22nd March 2022. Although you may have already applied for some of these funds, there will likely already be new opportunities to bid for
– Be ready for an assessment by one of your peers. This means you need to know how you plan to demonstrate your digital maturity to a peer, and clearly convey ‘what good looks like’ for your individual ICS. Keep impact on patient outcomes close to the centre of this demonstration – because that is a key ambition of this initiative
– Consult with a balance of internal stakeholders and independent external expertise as early as possible and make sure you develop a clear structure of priorities and activities that will help you to deliver on these ambitions together, against the needs and aims of all those involved

If you would like to learn more about these initiatives and involve our support at Redmoor Health in your ambitions, please contact us via either hello@redmoorhealth.co.uk or 01772 802300.

Author

Cameron Booth
Digital Programme Manager
Redmoor Health

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