We’ve just published our digital strategy. It sets out how the Department of Health will give its staff the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to embrace digital in an increasingly digital world.
It’s been quite a task to produce it and get consensus on some of the things it commits us to doing, driven by the challenges set for us in the government digital strategy which was published last month.
The last digital strategy I worked on for the department was a straightforward affair by comparison. Back then, I talked to a few people, drafted something that seemed to make sense, shared it with a few more people, published it, and then got on with doing the things it described (most of the things it committed the department to doing were the responsibility of the digital team).
Putting this strategy together was a trickier task, and I think that’s a (positive) sign of the changed status of digital in government. This strategy has broad ambitions cutting across all areas of the department’s work. Most of the commitments we make are not actually for the digital team to deliver.
Lots of people in the department have been involved in the process. We’ve held workshops and meetings, written notes and submissions, we’ve blogged about the process, had protracted email conversations and late night negotiations. And that’s probably all as it should be. If we get it right, this strategy will affect everyone in the department – they all have a stake in what it commits us to doing.
So what’s in it?
- It’s about digital and policymaking, because policymaking is what the department does, and there are massive opportunities to use digital techniques to improve the policymaking process.
- It’s about the ways the department works with and communicates with its external audiences.
- It’s about how we embed digital approaches in everything we do, giving staff the skills and tools they need to get things done.
- And although it’s a strategy for the department itself rather than the wider health and care system, it’s about the role of the department as a steward for a digital system, drawing on the information strategy for health and care that the department published earlier this year.
And of course it responds to the 14 actions in the government digital strategy.
Unlike some of the other strategies published today, our strategy does not focus on high volume transactions or services for the public. This is a strategy for the department itself and in the health system, these services are delivered by the NHS and the broader health and care sector rather than the department of state.
There are 21 case studies dotted around the strategy to help illustrate some of the ideas and the commitments we make. If this strategy succeeds, the kind of things we’ve described in our case studies this year won’t seem at all innovative next year. They will just be the routine behaviour of a digital department.