3. Support provider adoption and buy-in
Our survey found that the need to train practitioners to adapt to new ways of working was the top priority for organizations planning for the future. Accordingly, solutions should be user-friendly and incorporate seamlessly into existing workflows, rather than creating an additional administrative burden. At the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, for instance, new digital tools are designed to be intuitive – requiring no training for staff. Tools that need significant staff up-skilling may be more difficult to sustain in the long term.6
Many employees will have acquired new digital literacy skills and confidence during the pandemic, but some, including front-line practitioners, will need further support in using new service delivery approaches such as virtual consultations. Communication skills should also be a key focus as practitioners support patients, carers and families virtually, while collaboration skills will help them work more effectively with colleagues and enable cross-agency working. And IT teams must acquire the necessary capabilities to deploy and support new applications and the integration of systems.
4. Promote interoperability and data sharing to unlock actionable insights
The ability to collate and share high-quality data generated by health and social care systems will be ever more important as HHS organizations eye machine learning and AI as a way to deepen insight and deliver new benefits.
There is still much to do to enable better data sharing across the wider ecosystem – not just among health and social service providers but other government agencies (such as police, justice and education) and third parties (such as care homes, nonprofits and community organizations). Data is often locked away in siloed legacy systems that are difficult to integrate.
Interoperability is a major issue across this fragmented landscape, a problem that is often exacerbated when solutions are rapidly implemented without rigorous testing.7 Currently, many systems require intermediary solutions to allow disparate applications to communicate and share data. A decentralized and networked infrastructure, built on common data standards and structures, could unify disparate information from multiple sources and make integration seamless.8 Estonia, for instance, has a digital innovation platform that integrates all health and social care across the country, thereby eliminating interoperability issues.9, 10
If organizations make a concerted effort to develop national or regional strategies and infrastructures to support digital solutions and data standardization, they will be much better placed to derive the full benefit.