The digital transformation of a public sector across CCR

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With a digital revolution changing the face of enterprise in every commercial sector, it’s easy to forget that our public sector has been reshaping delivery of the frontline services relied upon by a whole population – and in the process leading a level of digital innovation that would have been unimaginable a short time ago. 

This latest feature in our ‘State-of-CCR-Digital’ series explores how public sector organisations across the region have embraced and continue to champion digital change, with a focus on improving essential services throughout Southeast Wales ….     

When the Welsh Government’s ‘Digital Strategy for Wales’ was published in March 2021, it reflected a vision that is becoming a reality for our public sector organisations. The government strategy is built on pursuit of six digital missions (Data & Collaboration, Digital Services, Digital Inclusion, Digital Skills, Digital Economy and Digital Connectivity) and every step of that journey is reflected in the transformation already being seen across our region – with the CCR appetite for collaboration, connectivity and co-production proving to be a catalyst for often-pioneering public sector innovation.

Tangible digital transformation, everywhere across the CCR

Those examples of tangible digital transformation are literally all around us.

Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen Councils have been collaborating with Neath Port Talbot Council on a ground-breaking project to improve people’s experience of accessing adult social care services online – with first-hand insights from both the end user and social care staff being used to develop better digital services, such as a more user-friendly referral process.

Caerphilly County Borough Council has embraced digital automation to process applications for free school meals, resulting in a much speedier process that ensures eligible school children are accepted on to the free school meals programme on the day of their application – which means many more children can now enjoy healthy and nutritious meals.

Across our region, digitally-driven change is happening in all areas of our public services, underpinned by the Superfast Cymru Public Sector Broadband Aggregation (PSBA) infrastructure that enables our public sector to deliver digital services through a safe and speedy network which supports community engagement and public service partnerships throughout CCR.

A five-year evolution achieved in 12 months

It’s estimated that the pandemic crammed five years of digital evolution into 12 months’ transformation – and given the scale of the COVID-19 health crisis, it’s perhaps little surprise that healthcare in CCR saw some of the biggest and most visible digital leaps made in our public service provision.

The results have been both dramatic and inspiring, with the health services of our region embracing digital platforms both to manage data integrity and provide digital accessibility while migrating face-to-face GP consultations to a remote service that 82% of patients found comfortable to use. Looking forward, a blended approach of ‘physical’ and virtual service remains the probable ‘best possible outcome’ but achieving 100% digital inclusion remains the absolute goal.

Away from GP Surgeries, the digital transformation can increasingly be seen in all aspects of care across Southeast Wales. Pilots such as ‘PhysioNow’, the digital musculoskeletal triage and assessment being run at Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board is just one CCR example of a pipeline of Digital Health Ecosystem Wales innovations being backed by Welsh Government’s Digital Solutions Fund.

Every public sector digital pilot and project is delivering enhanced learning and the promise of incremental value – but the truly game-changing Digital Services for Patients’ programme is perhaps the most pre-eminent transformation about to take place in our region …

A collaborative glue creating a world-leading healthcare platform

This world-first single log-in platform will democratise the flow of information between patients and ‘The System’, featuring an app that will allow patients to see and update their own medical records, enabling individuals to upload information such as blood pressure and sugar levels, as well as download guides on anything relevant (such as diabetes or maternity).

CCR and Wales is leading every country in the world in this area, pioneering the way patients can feed health information back into their direct care, helping the NHS identify the patterns of care needed. And digital is the power and enabler underpinning this radical healthcare platform. It has brought together the many different health, research and infrastructure enterprises in our region. It has joined up the knowledge and expertise of Primary Care, Digital Health and Care Wales and Digital Inclusion Alliance for Wales. It is the engine of radical change – and, indeed, a catalyst for a new culture …

A catalyst for a new way and a new culture

When the Welsh Government this year invested £4.9m in digital public services to drive more innovative and user-friendly approaches across our region and the rest of Wales, it represented more than funding for an inclusive infrastructure. Directed to a Centre for Digital Public Services established in 2020, this is an investment in a whole new way of designing and delivering digital public services.

The investment is supporting specialised training programmes and digital squads to work with our public sector organisations, helping drive up their digital knowledge and improve their online services. The aim? For every CCR citizen to enjoy an exceptional customer experience when accessing public services digitally, through a ‘UX’ that’s as easy and user friendly as when shopping or banking online.

This is true culture change. It means that the delivery of our public services will be designed around the needs of the customer – the citizen. As such, it sits at the very centre of CCR’s purpose and values, enabling our public services to evolve to meet the changing expectations of the people who need and use them. Empowering people to easily access the services they want through a few clicks of the mouse or taps of the screen will ensure that first class digital services become the norm in our public services – and is at the heart of inclusion, engagement, wellbeing, connected communities and, ultimately, economic growth here in the Cardiff Capital Region.

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A delivery-focused leader and digital strategist Colan Mehaffey recently joined the Cardiff Capital Region as Head of Digital & Data Innovation.

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