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Choosing the right partner for your digital priorities

Choosing the right partner for your digital priorities

In January, Digital Health Networks published an open letter setting out five digital priorities on which the NHS should focus in 2024. In the letter, the independent community of local NHS digital leaders focused on challenges that will be all too familiar to those charged with maintaining and securing the digital estates of NHS Trusts: namely “getting the fundamental basics of IT infrastructure, developing a digitally skilled workforce, and providing much greater stability and predictability on funding and policy initiatives”.

The very familiarity of these goals highlights the reality that achieving them is easier said than done; these persistent issues don’t exist due to ignorance or lack of will. NHS Trusts continue to be placed under considerable pressure from many directions, so meaningful headway on the below priorities requires careful consideration, planning, and the right support from expert sources.

1.    Financial predictability, governance, and trust

Funding for digital infrastructure is an ever-present consideration for Trusts, meaning that delaying decisions or projects can sometimes seem like the prudent course. However, making investments in the right infrastructure and working with likeminded partners can dramatically improve the financial predictability of a Trust’s digital operations, and enable them to move forward with their strategic goals. ITGL’s online portal was developed so that our clients could access comprehensive lifecycle information for the equipment in their estate, providing alerts on end-of-life or outdated infrastructure ahead of time, so that Trusts aren’t caught unawares by unplanned costs or security vulnerabilities. Similarly, our experience with enterprise agreements provides clients with reliable, unambiguous licensing costs, while ensuring that they have access to the features they need, in the correct quantities for their organisation.

2.    Consistent focus on getting the basics right (smart foundations)

Without the right digital foundations, almost everything else within the digital estate becomes harder or riskier to achieve. While there are many tools that promise transformational functionality, the reality is that many NHS trusts work with hardware and networks that would make it impossible to take full advantage of such technologies even if they were introduced. Comprehensive network audits and designs, such as those ITGL conducted with Wiltshire Health and Care, are required to ensure that Trusts can reliably access networked services and resources, and to ensure they remain secure against unauthorised intrusion. With these basics in place, Trusts can access functionality that provides meaningful improvement to staff’s day-to-day work, from reliable wireless connectivity wherever they are, to cloud-based network management and system visibility.

3.    Workforce development and reducing digital burnout through improved user experience

Recruiting to fill the digital skills gap is a major concern for anyone looking to build or maintain an IT team in the current climate, but, as the Digital Health letter notes, digital literacy among current staff is also often below desirable levels. This can lead to compounding frustration when individuals come up against systems and applications that are less than intuitive, or difficult to navigate without prior experience. Training staff is naturally a key first step, but attention should also be paid to improving the accessibility of the tools with which they come into contact. Consulting on and monitoring user experience can provide insight into hidden pain points within NHS systems that might otherwise be missed. Management and visibility tools like Cisco Catalyst Center (formerly DNA Center) and ThousandEyes deliver invaluable data on application performance and user experience within an organisation, allowing for fast and accurate diagnosis of challenges such as those Birmingham Community Healthcare experienced.

4.    Data, shared records and interoperability

As the NHS continues its expansion of digital records through Electronic Patient Records (EPR) and Future Digital Programme (FDP), it becomes ever more reliant on the systems and networks that support them. System visibility, as we’ve talked about previously, is a crucial tool in this space, but so too is developing meaningful segmentation across organisational networks. With the prevalence of older hardware and new IoT devices within Trusts – both of which can cause security and access management headaches – attempting interoperability without proper consideration can lead to the introduction of critical vulnerabilities. By working with experts like ITGL to assess their security posture and implement network segmentation, Trusts can turn their focus to developing interoperability that provides ease of access without compromising on security.

5.    Greater sharing of skills, knowledge, and experience

No organisation should be left feeling like their partner is holding back knowledge. At ITGL, we know that the more we share our skills and expertise with our clients, the better their results and the more smoothly any project will progress. For this reason, as part of our consulting services we will demonstrate best practice, and provide a variety of forms of training for the resulting solution. Equally, a partner that believes they already know a client’s situation and objectives can end up twisting a project to fit the shape they assume it needs to be – regardless of what’s best for the client. To avoid this, we closely collaborate with all our clients to fully understand their requirements and existing estate, ensuring that the solution is tailored directly to their needs.


Teaming up with the right partner can elevate the success of your investment, and ensure the future effectiveness of your infrastructure. To find out more about any of the work we’ve detailed above, or to discuss your own organisation’s requirements, get in touch with us at health@itgl.com.

Published by Luke Percy

March 1, 2024