Digital transformation of screening

NHSX is working to modernise and upgrade the IT systems that support NHS screening services in England.

Introduction to the programme

In response to Professor Mike Richards’s Independent Review of Adult Screening Services in England, NHSX has established the Digital Transformation of Screening (DToS) programme to oversee the digital transformation of NHS screening services.

Its purpose is to transform the IT systems on which NHS screening services are delivered, ensuring that this new technology is updated, more user friendly and inclusive of all who are eligible to be screened.

Aims of the programme

The vision of the programme is to develop a modern technical infrastructure to underpin screening services and deliver a better experience and outcomes for patients.

This technology is responsible for:

  • identifying who is eligible for screening at a particular time
  • managing screening participants through the screening process
  • tracking outcomes data on the impact of screening

Wherever possible, we will re-use or reconfigure modules such as those developed by the Government Digital Service. Where no such modules are available, we will seek to repurpose existing modules.

Our ambition is to provide:

  • a more streamlined service for screening participants, particularly those from seldom-heard groups 
  • technology that works better for screening staff and for secondary users of screening data such as managers and researchers

The programme has been structured into two parallel streams of work:

  • An interim programme that aims to replace the existing cervical screening call and recall service rapidly and safely.
  • A strategic delivery programme, which aims to transform all current and future national screening programmes – including both population-wide and targeted screening.

Find out more about the interim cervical solution.

Benefits

The NHS Long Term Plan set out a range of ambitions for better prevention and improving cancer outcomes. Achieving these goals will require effective and modern IT systems and services for screening. At present, some of the legacy IT platforms are built on older technology that is unconnected - causing frustration among screening participants and screening staff, duplication of effort and expenditure, and making it difficult for researchers to conduct studies to improve the quality, efficiency and equity of screening.

The strategic objectives of the Digital Transformation of Screening programme are to:

Inform, invite, follow up

We will allow screening participants to choose how we contact them and use the power of digital technologies to optimise screening uptake and understanding.

Improve the user experience

Working in partnership with users, we will optimise the experience for:

  • screening participants
  • frontline screening staff
  • managers and researchers

Increase agility

We will develop a strategic digital screening solution that is scalable and extensible, allowing us to support all NHS population screening and targeted screening services in due course.

Reuse, repurpose, buy, build

We will ensure the NHS gets the best value for money and minimises its technical debt by ensuring we reuse or repurpose existing NHS or Government components wherever possible before turning to the open market.

Leave no one behind

We will harness the power of digital technologies to increase the safety of screening programmes and ensure no one is left behind. In particular, we will optimise the informed uptake of screening among seldom-heard groups of people.

Ensure interoperability

We will capitalise on the benefits of an interoperable system, ensuring seamless data flow - not only along the entire length of screening pathways but onward into diagnostic and treatment pathways, as well as into disease registries.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the programme via nhsdigital.cervicalscreening@nhs.net