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Making Digital Readiness A Priority
By James Freed, Cio, Health Education England
Bringing Versatility into the CIO Role
In my opinion, a successful digital strategy depends on the approach, the philosophy, and the ethos of an organisation. Besides, intuitive and customer-centric product design also contributes to the overall growth. As the CIO of Health Education England, I am responsible for effectively utilising the right information to drive the organisation along a seamless path towards growth. I am also in charge of building a digital-ready workforce (BDRW) programme, which aims to educate and prepare the personnel in health and social care for digitalisation. Although discreet, the two roles overlap in more ways than one.
As an executive non-departmental public body of the Department of Health, Health Education England is working jointly with NHS Improvement to develop a more cohesive and coherent approach to workforce development across the NHS. The workforce transformation programme by the NHS is more than a social care interest and impacts a staff of over 3.1 million. Although we are not directly responsible for all the individuals, we provide assistance at all levels of healthcare organisations by promoting a seamless consolidation of existing services with innovative digital capabilities.
As CIOs, it is crucial to identify situations that require us to function as part of the team rather than as a leader
Our technology-enhanced learning portfolio is leveraged to deliver better learning opportunities to all the NHS staff and beyond. We are currently working on a new product called Learning Hub, which will utilise a broader pool of content to assist indigenous organisations in enhancing their learning initiatives. It will provide easy access to a wide range of education and training resources for the health and care workforce.
We went live with our in-house Trainee Information System (TIS) last year, which was a significant achievement for us. The programme is a national initiative to develop robust information systems for the management and administration of trainees and learners. We decided to go in-house, rather than depend on external suppliers. The micro-services approach, which we leveraged for the development of TIS, enabled us to personalise the programme according to the requirements of the clients.
Experience and Expertise Matter
Technology is an integral factor in the CIO role. However, solving the business challenges in an organisation requires CIOs to stay on top of the current trends and have the foresight to identify the strengths and weaknesses. A senior role comes with a responsibility to fully understand the functions of the relevant department and make informed decisions. It is expected of us to predict the needs of the users, which is rather challenging. It pays to be humble and curious. Interacting with the clients will facilitate a comprehensive understanding of their needs and requirements. As CIOs, it is crucial to identify situations that require us to function as part of the team rather than as a leader. When something is not working, it is imperative to take a step back and analyse it.
To illustrate a case in point, we were working on a learning product a few years back. Although we made good progress, we could not get the expected buy-in, especially from the senior leaders in the postgraduate medical and dental education space. I decided to retreat and analyse the programme board. We realised that in spite of having a sound number of technical staff, we lacked experienced experts in the field. Hence, we decided to identify and onboard an expert from the medical field to make specific decisions about product design. Although it made little difference in the design and delivery process, it significantly improved the success of the implementation. It was personally hard for me to relinquish responsibility and credit for the product as a CIO, but it was necessary for ensuring the effectiveness of the product and growth of the company. Drawing from this experience, I would urge my peers to be humble in their practice and ensure the right leaders are involved in your projects and initiatives.
Recognizing Technology for the Key Enabler It Is
Baladji SOUSSILANE, CIO, Bolloré Transport & Logistics