Christopher Wroath, NHS Education for Scotland

Written by Alan Robertson on 12 October 2015 in Feature

For 100 days, Connect is running through our Tech 100 for 2015, profiling the key figures driving the digital agenda in Scotland

Christopher Wroath (@cwroath)

Job Title/Organisation: [Interim] Director of Digital Transformation – NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

What does your role involve?

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) is the national special NHS health board with a responsibility to develop and deliver education and training for those people who work in NHS Scotland – ensuring the healthcare needs of the people of Scotland are met. For example, last year, we provided funding for over 5,000 trainee doctors, dentists, pharmacists, intern nurses and clinical psychologists. But this is just one example of our work.

My job title says a lot about my role. NES has set out to transform its information landscape from a (now) traditional, disparate, directorate driven one to a single, unified, joined-up user-led platform – to ensure the training and development needs of our workforce are met.

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

Driving the necessary change in complementary, long ingrained organisational behaviours around ways of working and around collaboration. There needs to be a far greater focus on measuring impact and delivering positive outcomes.

Without this parallel transformation the new platform will represent only a change in technology, not digital transformation that improves the health of the people of Scotland.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you've undertaken?

Surprisingly, it has been the formation and consolidation of the NES Digital group. It has been formed from the disparate technical staff spread throughout NES and who worked in isolation but who are now all together in NES Digital.

The process was not without issues and at times took a great deal of trust from both sides and demanded a great deal of clarity around the advantages and opportunities of joining the group. The process has been extremely beneficial in highlighting what leadership means in a digital context as well as in highly structured organisations such as NHS boards.

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

Half the potential people in Scotland who could join the digital workforce are not encouraged in any way to do. Institutional bias and long standing ‘ideas’ about what a suitable profession mean that girls in our educational systems are not encouraged to develop mathematic, technical or related skills including coding and applications development.

I am not suggesting that such long standing cultural issue can be addressed easily or quickly but a focused and coordinated programme between educational bodies, government and industry is needed to promote and encourage girls to participate in and around technology. It’s long overdue.

Which new technology excites you the most?

Big Data. Anything to do with Big Data. Now is the moment where the old adage of ‘data provides information, information provides knowledge and knowledge gives insight’ can become a reality for any organisation, big or small but especially in the public sector.

Scotland, like the rest of the UK is struggling with a significant workforce challenge in the health sector and to get to grips with the issues and problems far more understanding about who, what, where and when individuals make decisions around entering medical or allied health professions is necessary. It’s really powerful. It’s really exciting and can make a huge difference to the long term health of the people of Scotland.

What's your favourite app and why?

Citymapper. I used it all the time when I was living in London. The user interface is intuitive and simple while the real time travel data is a perfect example of a public service opening up its data to industry to the advantage of the citizen.

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

NES have spent the last year been developing an integrated training management and learning platform. At the core is the user, the individual member of the NHS in Scotland from front desk administration staff at your local hospital to the consultant heart surgeon.

It will deliver personalised, targeted training and development programmes from a single platform from which NES can collect data on what NHS Scotland staff are really doing in and around their learning and development.

The data is separated from the applications and will for the first time allow NES to develop an evidenced-based picture of all the training being delivered and its impact. It will change the delivery model for integrated health and social care as we move to the 20/20 vision. It will be the year that cloud, mobile and user-centric services matured in civic Scotland.

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