Weeknote: 8 to 12 February 2021

Lake next to footpath in woods. The lake is partially frozen over

What was hard?

A lot of my colleagues are experiencing the combined effects of the third national lockdown, home-schooling, pressure to deliver, and the freezing cold weather. Sometimes we need to have some hard conversations about priorities and team behaviours, and doing these remotely doesn’t make it easy to read how people are feeling.

What did you enjoy?

Seeing the practice leads for the Digital Services Delivery profession that I lead, all together on Teams for the first time in ages. We had an update on changes to NHS Digital’s early careers schemes, and talked about changes to the way professions will work in the organisation in the future.

On Wednesday, I listened in on a meeting of the inclusion collective, a group of colleagues collaborating across teams to make our products and services work for everyone, as we promise in the NHS Constitution.

I joined two panel discussions at the HETT (Healthcare Excellence Through Technology) virtual conference. On both, there was strong agreement that rapid digital adoption driven by the pandemic has good and bad sides to it. We’ve seen some of what might be possible, but at the same time the risks of inequity and exclusion accentuated by digital are greater than ever. Adopting new technology is only a tiny part of true service transformation enabled by digital.

What did you learn?

In my preparation for the panel sessions, I had some great pointers from some of our user researchers about patients’ varying experiences of remote consultations across the NHS. For many people, the opportunity of remote access to GPs and specialists has been a welcome change that they’d like to keep hold of, even as face-to-face care is restored. Their biggest frustrations are when things don’t work properly: presciptions not being sent to their chosen pharmacy, or not being able to upload a photo. We must always be mindful of the impact on people’s overall wellbeing and digital confidence when these administrative processes don’t work for them.

What did you experiment with?

I’m getting ready for a change in my role (more on that in future weeknotes). This means I want to hear from many people inside and outside my own organisation. To reduce the inevitable cross-calendar system availabilty tennis, I’m experimenting with 45-minute one-to-one appointments using Calendly. It’s working for me, and I hope it’s OK for the people I need to meet with as well.

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