There’s naturally been a lot of buzz around both, as they explore how to build on the advances in digital healthcare that we have witnessed during the pandemic, how to prepare for digital transformation and how to apply for funding.
The ‘What Good Looks Like’ framework for digital transformation of the NHS aims to put people, clinicians and patients at its heart and build on the digital progress made during the pandemic, while making sure that all health and care providers have a strong foundation in digital practice.
In ‘What Good Looks Like’ the authors start by admitting that funding for technology is too complicated and is often not flagged up far enough in advance for teams to apply for it properly. Both documents aim at getting around the 'patchwork' of funding strategies and to provide clarity for people applying for funding.
We are passionate about enabling and facilitating digital transformation across urgent, primary and secondary care settings so we hope we can help support our customers apply for funding to access this kind of interoperability.
In this blog, we’re going to be focussing on the Unified Tech Fund, taking a look at the associated prospectus and exploring some of the key details that our customers in the urgent care market should know about, including details on funding and how to go about getting it.
We recognise that the pace at which digital transformation has been both required and delivered over the last 18 months does not show any signs of abating. This means that projects and associated funding to extend your digital solutions, improve patient access, introduce mobile solutions or create the long-awaited interoperability that your service needs could be much more easily accessed via the funds that are now available. Let’s find out more….
The exciting news is that NHSX has joined together several national technology funds which will mean that £680 million will be available to NHS organisations throughout the financial year 2021 to 2022, as part of the Unified Tech Fund, essentially: bringing together ‘multiple existing pots of national tech funding into a single application’. The Tech Fund being the first step for 2021 and 2022 - the aim is to set out how teams can apply for the funding and go about bidding in a simple way.
The prospectus then goes on to set out the aims of the funding, which – among other aims - will ‘ensure a basic shared care record is in place within all ICSs’. Another of the funding aims includes a focus on supporting ‘the digitisation of the pharmacy, optometry, dentistry, ambulance and community services sectors, and improve interoperability’ – also known as PODAC - which is what we are going to drill down into.
This area of the Tech Fund is open now for bids until 7 October 2021.
The prospectus sets out that: ‘Capital funding of £2.5 million and revenue funding of £500,000 for the ambulance sector. Capital funding of £2.5 million and revenue funding of £500,000 for the community sector.’ While applicants may bid up to £500,000 capital and up to a maximum of £100,000 revenue per application.
The prospectus sets out eligible applicants, thus:
- NHSEI regions
- Ambulance trusts
- CCGs commissioned community health service providers
- Community of interest company or social enterprise providing community care NHS services
The prospectus is quite clear about the current lack of interoperability across the patient journey, saying ‘Currently, it is not possible for patients to have joined up care when a range of key sectors are digitally immature and therefore prevent interoperability.’ To go about changing this, the report says it wants to support ‘ambulance, community, dental, optometry and community pharmacy services to reach a baseline level of digital maturity’, highlighting that this is vital in order to enable change in the delivery of care.
This financial year, the fund will be focused on the supporting improving digital maturity in ambulance and community sectors, going on to say: ‘This work will support the long term vision for these services, where staff and patients no longer experience a disparity in digital services between ambulance and community sectors in comparison to the acute sector.’
At CLEO we are all about joined up care, interoperability and enhancing the patient journey, and this is what we do best – so let’s take a look about how you and your organisation could go about getting funding.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the scope of funding:
For the ambulance sector we will support projects that:
- align, design and build on existing integrated ambulance data architecture, working with ICSs across their geographical footprint:
- using a service oriented architecture which translates data and user functionality; or
- defining interfaces for data exchange between the ambulance architecture and local shared care record systems and other platforms
- integrate future capabilities and solutions, including on-board point of care diagnostics and monitoring tools, bookings and referrals with fleet and control room capabilities
- support local ambulance trusts to improve and standardise infrastructure resilience, enabling robust cybersecurity, failover and demand surge management
The document then sets out the eligibility of those applying for funding, which you may want to take a look at in more detail.
As we have outlined, there are plenty of opportunities for organisations to bid for funding to enable digital transformation across the urgent care market. If you are unsure if this is right for you, the prospectus offers the opportunity of guidance from NHSX on the ambulance and community programme by emailing email@example.com.
We hope you’ve found this helpful, and please feel free to get in touch if we can help support your bid. At CLEO, we develop and integrate innovative software solutions which support primary, urgent and emergency care settings to ensure patients receive safe and effective and our solutions are currently used by services covering a geography of around six million patients. Do feel free to get in touch to find out more!