A quick shift to home working meant the organisation could focus on supporting frontline staff last year
Digital technology is vital to the success of modern organisations, and the last year has truly cemented that importance in not only the popular consciousness, but the business one. Executives are more on-board with digital and business transformation than ever before, and now is a great time to push for change.
NHS Wales has embraced these opportunities. The pandemic has accelerated changes that were already underway in digital healthcare, like the adoption of video consultations and remote working - and CEO of Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW) Helen Thomas says it's made everyone more accepting about the idea of digital transformation.
"Some of the fear of digital change, and the concerns of changes in business practice, has been stripped away. As an organisation, Digital Health and Care Wales is building on NHS Wales' existing technology foundations and we're leading and shaping a bold and ambitious programme of integration and innovation."
DHCW (formerly NHS Wales' Informatics Services has been adopting a tech-based approach for some time - which was key to it securing the Best Place to Work in IT Award at last year's UK IT Awards. An example is one of the flagship systems, the Welsh Clinical Portal, which has replaced years of healthcare professionals having to deal with hard disc or printed scans; instead, they're now delivered with a single button press.
Thomas says she was "delighted!" when she heard about the win, adding, "It's a real honour to receive an award of this calibre, and it's recognition for all the efforts, hard work and ambition of all our staff. It really does reflect the fantastic work everyone has put in over the last 12 months and continues to do as we move into the next phase of our organisation."
DHCW moved to remote working as soon as the pandemic hit, but this didn't only help office staff; with the majority of teams set up at home, the organisation could focus on supporting frontline services. Thomas says that both sides of the organisation are important; professional development and wellbeing are a key part of NHS Wales' work. This also applies to people at the very start of their career, and the group has partnership agreements with two Welsh universities, where it invests in training and development.
Of course, it's not all about healthcare: DHCW is also a digital body, and blends both aspects together.
"I recently asked our staff to submit three words to sum up working for our organisation, and as well as ‘technology', ‘professionalism' and ‘digitalisation', the most popular words were ‘collaboration', ‘support', ‘family' and ‘togetherness'. That tells you something about the culture and how it feels to work here. We're a digital organisation, for and in the NHS - we have that caring and compassionate way in our approach, which shines through in all our work. A big part of the package on offer for people working for us is the fantastic opportunity to be in an organisation that is focused on improving the lives of the people of Wales."
People are the most important part of the healthcare sector. Thomas expects the recent UK IT Awards win to help NHS Wales continue to invest in and attract the best talent:
"This award helps us to continue attracting high-calibre candidates to roles at all levels, and it's further justification for us to continue developing our organisation, with our staff and their well-being and progression at the centre of what we do. An organisation is about people, it's about teamwork, and it's about what we're able to achieve together."
The NHS Wales Informatics Service became a Special Health Authority in April this year, rebranding to Digital Health and Care Wales: an achievement that will only help the organisation continue to grow.
"With more autonomy, and more resources, [becoming a Special Health Authority] is a reflection of the importance of digital and data in modern health and care. We are in a position where we can help to shape the digital future for all of us."
The UK IT Awards will return this year as a hybrid virtual/physical event. Entries are open now!