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Building a strong data foundation to power tomorrow’s public healthcare services

Podcast host Stephen Foreshew-Cain | Podcast guest Martin Warden
December 10, 2020 | 41 min 37 sec

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Brief summary

As the recent COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, having the right data available to drive decisions is critical to scaling an effective healthcare system. Martin Warden, Programme Director for Digital Transformation in General Practice at NHS Digital, whom Thoughtworks has partnered with since 2018 for the GP IT Futures programme, shares how the NHS is overcoming the barriers to innovation in Primary Care, and how critical data is to the overall strategy.


  • COVID has allowed us to really, really accelerate. Before COVID it was very much about local data sharing agreements between different clinicians and care settings, organizations. We've now moved to essentially a national data sharing to cover off those arrangements.

  • We have a hoop model in terms of the way that we're allowing data to be shared, so effectively consumers don't need to connect with every single supplier. And I think if we can establish that as the mature way in which the record is managed, accessed from other care settings, and the ability to read and write, feels like a major step forward.

  • I think that the hard transformation work we'd want to do in the next two or three years would be to start actually moving all our data to a cloud-based technology standard and actually stop the movement of data around the system. 

  • Our goal is to see general practice have the best technology, the best solutions available to it. The marketplace is focused purely on creating that type of environment. 

  • it's a really simple model of a set of business features that you would want to associate with a particular function within primary care, and we have a set of related standards that might well be about data or infrastructure. But ultimately a very transparent sense of what does my solution need to comply with before I can sell it in the market.

  • Keeping this marketplace relevant is critical, and part of that comes through stimulating innovation and that stimulation of innovation means that we need to put time, effort and energy into bringing in new supply.

  • One of the great achievements is establishing a level of trust with all our stakeholders and what we're trying to do and not moving at a pace that feels like we are rushing or are moving to an end state where we've not really fully tested

  • There's something about, in terms of pace of change, how do we actually create an environment where change can happen much more quickly than it does? The interesting thing about COVID is when we're all focused on the same mission, the ability to actually get change progress at pace, is surprisingly more straightforward.
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