From its early days of serving soldiers returning from the World War I battlefields to its present-day status as the United Kingdom’s leading heart and lung hospital, Royal Papworth Hospital has built a reputation for attracting world-class clinicians and developing groundbreaking procedures. This century of success was achieved not by dwelling in the past, but by forging into the future. And for the hospital, the path forward is in digital transformation.

“We knew that we were delivering good care already,” says Chris Johnson, chief medical information officer for Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which celebrated 100 years of patient care and treatment in 2018. “But we wanted people to understand that digital was the way forward because digital allows us to improve on that care.”

The Trust knew that if digital transformation were to be totally successful, it would involve more than just changing technology. It would involve changing minds, as well.

 

When you’re implementing a digital program like we did, there are a number of cultural changes that you really have to make.

 

“When you’re implementing a digital program like we did, there are a number of cultural changes that you really have to make,” Johnson says. “It’s a change in mindset — from paper documentation, from scribbling something on a set of notes, from pulling a form out from a drawer and just filling it in — to really thinking digitally about how you can use a system to its best effect.”

Not only does digital transformation require a new mindset, but it requires a mindset that must be embraced by the entire organization.

As Andrew Raynes, the Trust’s chief information officer, explains, “One of the great things that we did here at Royal Papworth is having a leadership team and a change model that worked through really good engagement with our staff and our teams.”

What lies ahead for the hospital as it embarks on its next hundred years?

“We are moving more and more at pace, looking at new opportunities for using technology to offer more benefits to our patients,” says Raynes. “We want to ensure that we gain the most benefits out of that way of working.”

As Royal Papworth proved, breaking down the barriers to digital transformation in healthcare might not be easy. But with persistence, the barriers do come down.

“It’s a risky thing for any hospital to do,” Johnson says. “But the benefits are manifold if you get it right.”

Learn more about Royal Papworth’s digital strategy.