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Technology and the NHS estate go hand-in-hand

A new report from The King's Fund makes a strong case for a closer relationship between technology and the NHS estate. 'Clicks and Mortar' stresses that the two have all too often operated in silos, but to maximise their impact, the estate and technology must be brought together as part of wider plans for change.


The report examines the impact that developments in technology are likely to have on the healthcare estate and attempts to understand what the estate of the future might look like. 


One of the questions addressed is whether the estate of the future might be smaller, as a result of technology enabling more patients to be treated without attending hospital, and monitored whilst remaining in their own homes, as well as reduced storage space as patient records are digitised and data is stored in the cloud. It concludes that this is unlikely, but the space will need to be configured differently and the estate will need to maximise the use of the space it has and be agile enough to adapt to changes in technology. 


Clicks and Mortar defines technology and the estate as enablers and stresses that a more strategic - and long-term - approach is necessary. "To realise the future vision we set out in this report, local systems will need to take a long-term, strategic view of technology and the estate. National NHS bodies need to give them the permission and headspace to plan for the long term. Only if that happens will the NHS be able to maximise the value of the estate it has, while delivering care which is more joined up to better meet the needs of patients."


Action areas identified:

• Patients and staff must be meaningfully engaged at the earliest stage so plans for change are developed to meet their needs

• The role of technology and the estate needs to be considered by organisations and local systems delivering clinical change

• Developing skills will be critical - analytical skills to make the most of data and strategic skills to embed the intelligence in planning

• More efficient sharing of space between organisations - both within the NHS and with partners outside of it

• Collaborative working should be supported by further action from national bodies

• Consideration should be given to how technology can support the use of existing space in different ways

• Capital investment is essential - that means a long-term capital commitment at national level.


Click here to download the full report.