Digital transformation is a powerful thing, especially when employed within the public sector. These types of organisations are tasked with providing support to communities and improving the quality of life for local residents. This means that it’s incredibly important that they’re able to provide solutions to issues in a fast and efficient manner. Digital transformation is the key factor when providing this - but what does it look like in practice?
Here are some digital transformation case studies to prove its worth.
- Creating A Digital Revolution
- Managing Delayed Hospital Discharges Digitally
- Improving The Digital Efficiency of Sexual Health Services
- A Modern, Collaborative Digital Council
- Making Digital Services Available to All
1. Creating A Digital Revolution
In Cornwall, the local council terminated a partnership with their network provider. This left the organisation in dire need of digital revolution in order to transform the service delivery to residents.
The challenge was to bring everything in-house, meaning that Cornwall Council could address their outdated IT structure which was creating serious risks to public services.
In order to do this, Cornwall Council began to implement more interactive devices, such as meeting room technology, public WiFi, and virtual communication tools. They also improved staff flexibility by creating platforms for email and communication that could be accessed on mobile phones and other devices.
The digital transformation utilised in the Digital Cornwall project brought greater connectivity to council staff, meaning that collaboration was increased across the board. The changes also affected training methods and even the design of offices, which helped to align the process with a cultural change as well.
In all, Cornwall Council were able to benefit in a number of key ways:
- £2 million worth of savings across the organisation.
- 1.5 million transactions moved online.
- A culture shift across Cornwall Council.
The changes have benefitted the county in that it’s not just an implementation for the Council itself. They’ve begun a Digital Inclusion Strategy, meaning that the entire 3,563km of the county is able to prevent digital exclusion. Part of this involves delivering courses and sessions based on the Essential Digital Skills Framework.
Cornwall Council is currently improving upon this process by using it to optimise traffic through smart data capture and making it universally accessible by naming the communities as champions. They’re also working to make Cornwall digitally prosperous, providing 5G network coverage.
2. Managing Delayed Hospital Discharges Digitally
In hospitals, patient flow and bed management are obviously very important. Patients come and go and can be medically fit to leave but not have the next stage of their care journey planned for.
In Southampton, this was managed through a paper process, using faxes to communicate. Because of this, there was no adequate tracking and many problems with transcription errors.
To resolve this, APEX, a low-code development platform was used to build an electronic system that employed a more efficient way of managing complex discharges. As APEX was an adaptive platform, over time meetings were held to discuss feedback and issues, allowing the team involved to modify the system over a number of iterations.
There have been many benefits of this for hospitals in Southampton. The data in use is very much owned by them, meaning that clear pathways can be viewed and accountability is improved. The digital solution is also highly accessible - all stakeholders including both community support services and social services can access it to enhance their own work.
This all helps to create a sense of shared ownership. Combining this with daily data validation means that the reporting process has become incredibly accurate. Demand prediction is also similarly benefitting from the digital transformation, being more able to view the discharge status of a large number of patients and identify those that are fit to be moved.
To show the efficiency of this transformation, it was shown that there were 3264 lost bed days in March 2016. In March 2019, this number was at 2274 - a huge decrease.
3. Improving The Digital Efficiency of Sexual Health Services
When the commissioning of sexual health services transferred from primary care trusts to local government, these services in Kent were fragmented, which risked an inability to provide care and support. To implement digital transformation, the agenda was set to integrate and modernise key services.
Kent County Council launched Your Sexual Health Matters in 2015, a single comprehensive site that integrated services with key information regarding sexual health. Over the years, the service was improved to include dedicated support for sexual health screening. The numbers of people using the service increased a great deal, from 500 in October 2017 to 1500 in October 2018.
This number represents 22% of all attendees who were accessing sexual health services. According to Director of Public Health Andrew Scott-Clark, there’s reportedly been “no drop in the numbers using the clinics. That suggests that the online service has filled a gap”.
As a result of this new website, Kent County Council were able to provide a more comprehensive and structured approach to care and support (regarding sexual health) for their residents.
4. A Modern, Collaborative Digital Council
Our final digital transformation case study involves cross-council collaboration.
With grant funding, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council decided to collaborate with customer portal provider JADU. This was done to re-engineer customer portals, CRMs and end-to-end transactions, as well as training staff to ensure sustainability in the future.
The challenge for Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council presented itself in three ways:
- Securing political and management buy-in.
- Changing a paper-based culture.
- Identifying resources linked to procurement.
The Council adopted both a digital vision and a digital strategy, culminating in the use of a new digital front-end for council services. The first area of attention it focused on was recycling and waste, using business analyst support from JADU to plot improvements to the customer service journey.
For example, the council enhanced the process of service requests, making it easier for residents to inquire about missed bin collections or ordering larger waste collections.
The process has also been able to extend the collaborative efforts of neighbouring councils, as both Lichfield District Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council have also championed the initiative. The partnership has been described as a ‘coalition of the willing’ by those involved.
5. Making Digital Services Accessible to All
Accessibility is about more than simply making things available online. It’s about ensuring the content and design of the things you put online are clear and easy enough for most people to use without needing to adapt to it. At the same time, it should still support those who do need to adapt.
In addition, websites that have been optimised for accessibility don’t just benefit the public. They’re also better for search engines as they usually load faster, appear easier to use and rank higher in listings.
One example of a successful digital accessibility project is when Kent County Council and the University of Kent teamed up to provide higher levels of accessibility across their county.
The project, which took place in 2019, involved the council’s websites being audited and accessibility statements being produced that emphasised plain language. The council also produced a series of e-learning modules and guidance on the issue to support staff and the wider community.
Another major part of the project was to combine accessibility guidelines with the procurements of digital products and services. Suppliers now have to be tested to prove they comply with:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
- Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations.
- Various ISO standards on interoperability.
- The Equality Act.
Not only has this allowed Kent County Council to be compliant with the Government’s accessibility requirements but it has also meant the council’s digital services are more inclusive for all.
We don’t have the time to talk about every success of digital transformation within the public service - there are so many examples of it. Many are small enough to fly under the radar but still represent the benefits that digital change can deliver.
Improving Digital Services Through Cultural Transformation
Another thing little talked about is culture change, which is a process directly related to improving digital transformation. Culture change is an important part of any organisational shift and can provide the basis for a successful digital transformation.
Digital transformation is inherently tied up with cultural transformation - you can’t have one without the other. If you’re looking to improve your chances of a successful digital transformation, our guide provides relevant information when implementing a culture change. It covers industry insight, best practices and includes advice from the experts.
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