When NHS England identified technology as a challenge to delivering the newly launched Growing Occupational Health and Wellbeing Together strategy, further work was needed to better understand the challenge area and develop a blueprint for future action.
Arden & GEM’s digital transformation team worked in partnership with the Satellite Applications Catapult to engage with the occupational health and wellbeing community through a series of workshops and interviews. The programme team now has a clear exploration of the current technology ecosystem, its performance and recommendations for the future, which have been shaped through a process of co-design with service stakeholders.
In 2021, NHS England launched the Growing Occupational Health and Wellbeing Together (GOHWBT) programme to empower NHS Occupational Health and Wellbeing Services to become integrated, strategic and proactive partners in improving the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce.
Arden & GEM’s Health and Care Transformation team supported NHS England in creating a national strategy, roadmap and recommendations – published in January 2023 – to take NHS Occupational Health and Wellbeing Services forward over the next five years.
One of the identified challenges to delivering the strategy was IT systems. Current digital solutions are often legacy systems which do not provide the integration and functionality needed to run a modern service. To further explore this challenge area and identify priority actions, Arden & GEM and the Satellite Applications Catapult were commissioned to work in partnership to deliver a final report and blueprint for future work.
The project team brought together digital transformation professionals with experience of managing and evaluating national programmes and knowledge of the latest technology and innovation landscape.
The project outputs needed to:
- Map out the current technology ecosystem, detailing what works well and the current challenges
- Co-design a digital first approach with the OHWB community that meets the current and future needs of staff and service users
- Identify priority action areas to inform planning.
The first step in achieving the desired outputs would be to engage with the OHWB community.
The project team began by attending existing national, regional and system level forums to facilitate discussions on high-level technology issues. By using real-time voting software, instant feedback was received on problems, aspirations and innovation.
The main areas of concern raised were:
- The way in which information is captured
- The data analysis and reporting capabilities of systems
- Integration with other systems such as HR and people management.
Alongside this wider engagement, in-depth interviews were also undertaken with key technology champions across the health and wellbeing community including senior leaders within Trusts, NHS England and the Society of Occupational Medicine. Interviews covered the current digital position, current systems, aspirations, barriers, wellbeing apps and the potential of collaborative working.
By bringing together all the captured insight from the three-month discovery phase, system requirements could be defined from a clinician, service user and occupational health team perspective. These findings would then be presented to a wider group of staff for review as part of a co-design exercise.
The co-design phase included two workshops with 40 participants to discuss key areas for development, system requirements and examples of good practice. As well as focusing on current issues such as data capture, sharing learning and mapping pathways, the co-design process also looked ahead to the role for innovation including the use of AI, bots, apps and portals.
Following a period of engagement and co-design with the OHWB community, a detailed technology report has been produced to inform the programme team.
The report explores the discovery phase findings and establishes next steps for the co-design phase. One of the key recommendations is to establish an overarching OHWB Technology working group with a specific development remit to include system specification, integration and automation. Aligned to this task, the group should also develop common pathways which are mapped against possible apps for standard evaluation.
The GOHWBT programme team now has a clear digital blueprint for future action to support delivery of the five year strategy.