Digital productivity

Accelerating the adoption of evidence-based digital tools to improve productivity across the NHS and social care.

What is digital productivity?

Digital productivity is about working smarter using digital tools. This can help improve the NHS’s ability to produce more output from goods, services, capital and labour.

NHSX is helping improve productivity in health and care settings by investing and focusing on outcomes in the key areas where digital transformation can make a positive impact.

If you want to improve productivity in your health and care setting by adopting digital technology, this hub will show you how to do it.

You can:

  • find out where it’s been done well to get you started on your transformation to digital services
  • read the case studies for inspiration
  • explore the resources you can use now

Adopting digital technology

Digital technologies provide the NHS and social care sector with a way to address the challenges faced due to increasing demand. They enable the health and care system to:

  • deliver care and treatments to more patients
  • save time
  • lower costs
  • reduce waste
  • increase patient satisfaction
  • increase staff satisfaction

Some examples of proven technologies include automation, radio frequency identification and virtual reality.

Use cases for these technologies across the UK and internationally have evidenced their potential to augment, not replace, health care professionals supporting them to provide the best level of care.

Benefits of improved productivity

Automation is a technology evidenced to realise related benefits. For example, it can release health care professionals from administrative tasks and reduce operational costs. It can also improve quality and compliance using proactive record management.

For example, the Royal Free Hospital London NHS Foundation Trust has used robotic process automation (RPA) to reduce inefficiencies in its recruitment process. Implementing RPA in the recruitment process has:

  • increased the productivity of recruitment staff
  • helped to reduce vacancies
  • onboard new staff more quickly
  • saved money through recruiting less bank and agency employees

NHSX is working on a number of initiatives looking at other digital technologies that can help improve productivity in health and care settings. These include:

Case studies and resources

Using robotic process automation to reduce inefficiencies in recruitment

The Royal Free Hospital London NHS Foundation Trust has used Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to reduce inefficiencies in its recruitment process. Implementing a new process has:

  • increased the productivity of recruitment staff
  • helped to reduce vacancies
  • helped to onboard new staff more quickly
  • saved money through recruiting less bank and agency employees

You can find out more about this work on the NHS Employers website.

Using radio frequency identification to manage inventory and improve standards of care

Using radio frequency identification (RFID) to introduce passive RFID tagging at East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has led to:

  • less time being spent looking for medical devices
  • reduced delays to patient care
  • improved employees and patient experience

You can read about how East Kent Hospitals used radio frequency identification.

Using virtual reality to improve patient life and reduce pressure on care

Virtual reality in NHS North Lincolnshire CCG has helped to improve the retention rates of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD). This has:

  • boosted patients’ independence
  • hopes to reduce hospital visits
  • helped patients be treated more quickly using VR

You can read about how NHS Lincolnshire CCG used virtual reality.

Explore the resources you can use now

If you work in the NHS, you can access resources about RPA on the Future NHS RPA Community of Practice.

Examples of resources include:

  • information on what RPA is
  • case studies and best practices providing you with tried and tested approaches
  • guidance on how the technology should be used
  • forums to connect and collaborate with peers

You can read the report on The growing value of XR in healthcare in the UK today, which identifies the opportunities in adopting this type of technology and highlights cost savings and improved patient outcomes stemming from the transformative use of immersive technology.

How can I find out more?

Please get in touch with the digital productivity team if you would like to:

  • find out about how we can help you to adopt digital technologies to improve productivity in your health and care setting
  • share your experiences with us

Email digital.productivity@nhsx.nhs.uk to get in touch.