quote HEE facebook linkedin twitter bracketDetail search file-download keyboard-arrow-down keyboard-arrow-right close event-note

You are here

‘Throughout history, it has often taken a crisis to drive such rapid evolution’

18 June 2021

Over the past year and a half, it has become clear to all of us in the NHS that we are far more capable than we ever imagined of rapid evolution and innovation; developing and adopting new processes and technologies; and working in ways which are different to how we have always done things.

However, we also know that throughout history, it has often taken a crisis to drive such rapid evolution.

At HEE, we really want to capture and continue this momentum and appetite for change, so that we are always open and ready to make the most of what the present and future has to offer in terms of improvement and how we deliver our business.

Making HEE a Digital First organisation is a commitment I gave publicly at the NHS Providers Annual Conference in October and has been a key focus of HEE’s contribution to this week’s NHS Confederation Conference. The fact that Confed, a key event for health and care stakeholders, was virtual showcases that the movement is already starting to happen.

But what does Digital First actually mean?

Firstly, I would like to be clear that Digital First and digitalisation does not mean putting digitalisation or technology before anything else; nor does it only refer to the use of technology in our business.

Digital First is best understood as a movement to meet our customer’s needs ever better, by enabling our people to measurably apply the behaviours, practices, processes, and technologies of a modern, changing world.

Digital is not an end in itself but rather a way of thinking and behaving which will help us to deliver our core purpose and core functions better.

Shifting our focus into a Digital First mindset and way of operating right now will help us to act in a way that ensures we are ready to make the most of the future and are actively seeking to use the best of what we have now to do our best for the population, rather than relying on historic ways of doing things which were created for a vastly different world to the one in which we are now living.

Better together, how can we become a customer (digital) first NHS

Digital is much more about people than computers. It will touch every single one of us across the NHS to varying degrees, and we will all be part of this shift in our thinking and acting. We know that this shift will be challenging, and that making Digital First a reality in our organisations, and across the wider health and care system will take commitment, investment, and sensitivity, as well as an openness to change.

A stimulating discussion led by HEE’s Innovation and Transformation Directorate at this week’s Confed, highlighted the collective energy and commitment of partners to realise the vision of a digitally confident and competent workforce using digital as a catalyst to increase choice and enable better care.

It will mean better, quicker, more agile ways of working, with an adaptable workforce who are more confident and better equipped to do their job and to lead change in the system. It is about implementing a cyclical dynamic where processes and capabilities are constantly evolving. This leads to improved service for the patients we serve.

We are ready to embrace Digital First at HEE- come and join us on this journey!

Best Wishes


Dr Navina Evans

Chief Executive 

Health Education England

Posted by Dr Navina Evans

This Page was last updated on: 18 June 2021