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Over the past year, the NHS has been through an extraordinary period of challenge and change. At the forefront of this has been the incredible effort and commitment shown by those in the health service in dealing with the impact of COVID-19. Also significant is the way services have had to rapidly adapt to the new reality of delivering health care in a pandemic.

Key points:

  • During the pandemic, there has been increased NHS use of both established and newer technologies to reduce face-to-face contact and manage demand.
  • While technologies were rolled out with impressive speed, some aspects of implementation – such as evaluation, co-design and customisation – will necessarily have been shortcut, and will need revisiting after the emergency phase of the pandemic is over.
  • Among members of the public and NHS staff who reported increased use of technology, the overwhelming majority said they had positive experiences – impressive given the severe pressure on the NHS.
  • Through a refresh of the NHS Long Term Plan and other national strategies, policymakers will need to support front-line teams to revisit aspects of implementation and 'reorient' technology-based interventions to serve longer term quality and productivity objectives. Central to this will be evaluating their impact on care quality and developing a vision of ‘what good looks like’.
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