Ahead of this year’s HETT Show (26-27th September, ExCeL London), Ifan Evans, Executive Director of Strategy, Digital Health and Care Wales, delves into the transformative impact of the digital response to the pandemic on the healthcare sector, both presently and in the years to come. 

Throughout the course of the pandemic, we have gained valuable insights into utilising digital solutions to effectively tackle the urgent health and care challenges. Embracing innovative approaches has been a crucial aspect of our response to the global crisis. Notably, we successfully implemented a comprehensive contact tracing system across Wales within a span of six weeks. We also introduced an efficient vaccine management system to cater to the needs of the entire country. 

The establishment of the Welsh Pandemic Record played a vital role in sharing testing and vaccination data, not only within Wales but also with England. It allowed us to effectively handle data from various sources and varying quality, ensuring it was appropriately used for urgent contact tracing or 'cleaned and filtered' before being permanently recorded in the Welsh Digital Health and Care Record. Furthermore, we successfully implemented Microsoft Teams for over 100,000 individuals across NHS Wales, granting remote access to GPs, video consultations in all healthcare settings and network improvements to cope with much greater demand.  

These valuable services were made possible through the collaborative efforts of DHCW with NHS Wales, the Welsh Government, local authorities, and other key partners. The sharing of data played a crucial role in effectively planning and delivering our pandemic response. For instance, we established an all-Wales 'joint data controller' arrangement for contact tracing, creating a unified data platform for all local authorities and NHS Wales. Additionally, we developed a Shielded Patient List to prioritise access to essential healthcare services, vaccines, and other important resources. Our real-time Covid Dashboards, which amalgamate data from various sources, greatly enhanced our understanding of virus spread, infection rates, variant types, and informed policy decisions made by Welsh Ministers. 

During the pandemic we gained a wealth of knowledge that we can harness to drive future digital transformation and ensure the sustainability of our health and care services. By bringing together experienced digital leaders to make collective decisions in real time, we were able to keep up with the pace of delivery. Instead of focusing on years ahead, we proactively considered risks and opportunities in the coming weeks. Additionally, our ability to quickly identify when things were not going as expected allowed us to swiftly adjust our approach. 

New digital services were funded centrally and delivered nationally, allowing for immediate action without placing any financial burden on local organisations. This played a crucial role in the rapid adoption of these services across Wales. We established collaborative measures for data control and implemented a shared data record while avoiding cutting corners on data protection and privacy. Through innovative use of data, we were able to provide significant benefits to the clinically vulnerable population, particularly in terms of targeted vaccine distribution and tailored treatments. The availability of real-time data not only aided the NHS in making operational decisions, but also assisted ministers in formulating effective policy strategies. 

The digital services we developed and hosted in the cloud were universally accessible, allowing us to utilise webinars to train hundreds of individuals each day and deploy teams throughout Wales to meet surges in demand. The ability to receive live feedback from users meant we could swiftly implement improvements and enhancements. 

Healthcare services are currently facing immense pressure, and digital transformation plays a vital role in alleviating this strain. By embracing digital solutions, we can significantly enhance the quality of healthcare and achieve better outcomes. It is crucial to simplify processes and equip our staff with the necessary tools and information. Investing in digital technologies and data is the key to accomplishing this. We must also target our services towards those who require them the most, precisely when they need them, in ways that deliver the most benefit and best outcomes. In today's healthcare system, achieving these goals is only possible through the effective utilisation of data and digital technologies. 


Find out more about how DHCW are embracing digital transformation at HETT Show, 26-27th September 

Join us on 26-27th September at ExCeL London for this year’s HETT Show, the UK’s number one digital health event. Matt Cornish, Rhidian Hurle & Anne Watkins are amongst a number of guest speakers representing Digital Health and Care Wales will be joining this year’s show in the following sessions: 

  • FemTech, Women’s Health, Digital Support for Women’s Health Concerns: How Does this Manifest in the NHS? 
  • The Future Digital Patient: Exploring the Design, Adoption and Engagement of Apps 
  • Working to Design a Healthcare System that can Effectively Leverage the People Power Behind Technology 

Sam Hall, Director of Primary, Community Care and Mental Health Digital Services said; sam hall (1)

 “I'm thrilled to be joining the ‘Supporting Primary Care to Adopt Digital Capabilities’ panel at this year’s HETT event. This links in closely to some of our major programmes in NHS Wales which focus on transitioning to digital, including delivering digital medicines, the NHS Wales App and the wider use of the Microsoft Office 365 package.  

HETT events provide an excellent platform to showcase and learn from others who are speaking about their challenges and successes.  With a number of speakers representing Digital Health and Care Wales on the programme this year, we are delighted to showcase some examples of the great work being done in the digital healthcare landscape across NHS Wales.” 

HETT Show is free to attend for the NHS and the wider public sector.

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