Digital First supports the delivery of digital access to NHS services and help patients and their carers manage their health.
Providing connected and quality care to ensure that patients can access the most appropriate services in a timely manner, is a major ambition for the NHS. We are therefore exploring how to implement digital technology into the healthcare system, working with workforce and market innovators to co-design end-to-end systems that best meet requirements of both the patient and clinician.
The Digital First Primary Care programme provides us with the opportunity to do this. The Long Term Plan states that by 2023/24 digital-first primary care will become a new option for every patient in England, improving fast access to convenient primary care.
Patients will be able to use online tools to access all core elements of primary care services, such as receiving advice, booking appointments, having a consultation with a healthcare professional, receiving a referral and obtaining a prescription. These services will be designed to meet patient needs, with online tools to direct them to the right digital or in-person service as easily as possible. In addition to Primary Care, we are also reviewing flows within Urgent Care services, to design pathways that allow patients to move and be redirected between core NHS services.
Over the past 12 months, London’s Digital First programme has supported accelerator sites across the Capital to understand the local landscape and wider system challenges by using patient pathway mapping to recognise constraints within our current “as-is” system, ahead of developing future “to-be” flows. This has allowed STPs to identify a number of priority workstreams for local programmes. These programme workstreams range from supporting pre-existing initiatives that are working well to new initiatives that will ultimately support optimal service design. The Digital First methodology aims to promote pathway mapping methodology and inform commissioning decisions.