Digital transformation isn’t just about achieving greater efficiencies. It’s also about creating an environment that’s happier and healthier with better outcomes for everyone.
This is the focus of Share Cambridge on 25 April 2019.
For local authorities, central government and the healthcare sector, the biggest challenge facing us is how to achieve these better outcomes for people and communities through transformed public services – harnessing emerging technologies and data in ways that are ethical and avoid exposing people and their data to cyber security risks.
It’s well-documented that online communication can have an enormous impact on people’s wellfare. Managed properly, it can alleviate loneliness, reduce isolation and unite communities. When it comes to people’s health and wellbeing, digital transformation offers powerful opportunities. It enables intervention to take place early at a local, community level. It also allows people to be proactively involved with their own care, encouraging engagement and collaborative response and treatment freeing up resources at the expensive acute end of the system. Digitalisation and effective and secure information sharing can help people to live independently avoiding entry into the care systems. It also means people are better informed about conditions, helping to prevent illness and enabling faster discharge from hospital care.
But the opportunities are far greater than just transforming the care setting. Taking a fresh look at the determinants of people’s wellbeing can enable the public sector in the widest sense – housing authorities, leisure providers, environment, education, police, public health, alongside care organisations and health providers – to refocus their efforts on addressing the often entrenched and endemic problems in our communities. In short, digital technologies and better use of data can help to transform outcomes in collaboration with people in their diverse settings.
However, as with everything, there’s a potential downside. Digital technology also exposes people to significant risk. Cyber security and privacy breaches are a real threat and fear of negative outcomes, including data protection concerns and nervousness about technology itself, can also sometimes make end users wary of engaging with the opportunities presented.
To be successful, digital transformation needs to actively foster inclusivity. It must take into consideration existing socio-economic inequalities and actively address them to ensure services are truly available to all. It must also incorporate a means of training and educating people to ensure they have the skills necessary to reap the full benefits of the digital age.
Factors including age, gender, education and other socio-economic factors have created a digital divide. One that needs to be closed if society is to benefit fully from the positive effects of digital transformation on wellbeing. While this divide remains, digital technology will only serve to create greater inequalities and, in essence, a digital underclass. How do we close the gap between those who are fully engaged digitally and those who have limited or no access to digital technologies and their ensuing wellbeing outcomes?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, those most likely to be impacted negatively by the risks associated with digital transformation are those with lower levels of education and skills. Digital literacy is increasingly a requirement for job opportunities and a lack of appropriate skills can lead to people being trapped in poorly paid roles, never receiving the necessary training to harness the benefits of digitalisation.
It is, therefore, essential that education is a vital component of any digital strategy. In a healthy society, inequalities cannot be left to grow and fester. Education needs to be delivered from the grassroots upwards and ongoing. A passion for lifelong learning is born in the classroom and we need to see digital skills incorporated into the curriculum and viewed, correctly, as an essential timetabled subject. Young people entering the job market today need to be able to live and work in a digital world. For their whole-life wellbeing, they need cognitive skills, IT competency, specialist and general skills and the ability to adapt quickly and enthusiastically to change. In the UK, digital literacy is acknowledged as a core component of the curriculum but – in order to deliver lessons of the required calibre – teachers need intensive training too.
Socitm is committed to promoting steps to build a digitally capable workforce and to address gaps in leadership, diversity, and hard and soft skills. We want everyone to have the opportunity to gain the skills and experience required to thrive in the digital age.
We also drive the development of digital leadership in the public sector, championing the need for all leaders and managers to have a strategic vision of the possibilities and potentials of technology. By improving digital proficiency among managers and employees at all levels, we are striving to eradicate digital inequality in the work place. We champion the importance of diverse leadership and teams, including the empowerment of women, for the design of services and products that work for everyone. We are constantly researching the best and most effective ways to gain, re-train and retain people so they have the up-to-date skills needed to work creatively, productively and happily in an ever-evolving workplace.
Innovation and the sharing of excellence are vital to our vision and our operations. We know that when our members and partners come together, break-throughs are made and initiatives that make a tangible and positive difference to society are discussed and facilitated. One of our key policy areas is Health and Wellbeing and we know that, in offering opportunities for open discussion and ideas sharing, we can help shape best practice and maximise the potential of digital transformation to create a healthier, happier and more efficient world for all.
On 25 April Sam Smith, Socitm’s vice-president, is hosting Share Cambridge 2019. Focusing on health and wellbeing, the event will explore how digital transformation can help drive innovation in services supporting health and wellbeing. It will also examine how digital alignment can support service providers.
Throughout the year, we have been fortunate to work alongside our policy partner, DELL EMC, putting health and wellbeing under the microscope and examining how digital transformation really can change people’s lives for the better. DELL EMC are sponsoring this event and will be hosting a human centred design and co-production workshop focusing on the standards and platforms that are being used to deliver innovation and create new health care models. However, Share Cambridge 2019 isn’t just for IT professionals in local government and the healthcare sector. It’s for anyone who wants to unlock the full potential of transforming people’s lives through digital transformation. Socitm public sector and NHS members can attend the event for free and there will be plenty of opportunity to network and share experiences alongside our ground-breaking speaker agenda.
Only by coming together can we equip ourselves to eliminate digital inequality and ensure everyone benefits from the improved wellbeing the technology allows. Just as digital technologies expand the boundaries of information available to people and enhance human productivity, so collaborating and sharing excellence expands the boundaries of our creativity and helps improve the health and wellbeing of us all.
We know diversity, skills and leadership are vital to digital wellbeing. So much so that they come together to form one of our key policy themes. Policy changes people’s lives, helping them to be healthy, active, caring, vibrant, connected, inclusive, sustainable, growing, curious, creative, learning, safe and secure. Download our Leadership, diversity and skills policy briefing to discover how our vision will achieve better outcomes for all.