ChallengeSt Oswald’s Hospice is a CQC rated Good provider. Based in the North-East of England the charitable hospice provides specialist palliative and end of life care for babies, children, young people and adults.
Following the appointment of Stephanie Edusei as Chief Executive in May 2020 St Oswald’s mobilised an ambitious programme of transformation. The transformation strategy articulates a clear desire to become more digitally mature, with enhanced engagement with digital technologies and services recognised as an essential enabler.
Nationally the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the use of digital technologies and revolutionised the delivery of patient services and interactions. For some the pace of the change has compounded digital inequalities and exacerbated the digital skill gap. St Oswald’s rapidly adapted to the new world aligning new digital solutions with existing models of care and broadened its’ reach and income generating opportunities through hosting on-line events. However, a distrust of digital solutions also emerged as a result of the pace of implementation and COVID restrictions preventing opportunities to provide training. This resistance presented a potential barrier to their transformational journey.
NECS was commissioned for a period of seven weeks to undertake a digital diagnostic to define the current status of the transformation journey, and identify gaps, along with identifying priority areas of focus for future development. Building on qualitative interview techniques the NECS team interviewed key stakeholders to assess their readiness for change, decision making processes and appetite for risk. The results were captured and organised into a report and a series of time-bound recommendations were presented to the Executive team.
A digitally mature organisation is one that optimises the use of digital technology with digital services fully incorporated into the organisations culture and processes. The NECS team developed and deployed a qualitative analysis tool to assess the levels of digital integration across all levels within the organisation. Interviews with stakeholders were guided by a discussion framework which were developed to draw out the different themes and individuals lived experience. The interviews explored the following themes:
• Decision Making: How decisions in the organisation were determined, processed and reviewed.
• Change Management: Staff experiences and ideas to help shape the digital aims and priorities
• Infrastructure: Exploration into how the current infrastructure is working and the potential changes and associated benefits.
• Software: Consideration of the software/applications which could be deployed, current gaps and where future development would be beneficial, including licensing and updates.
• Smarter Working: Review of new ways of working to support people to work in new more effective and efficient ways.
The discussions with stakeholders were informally transcribed, the data analysed and compared to identify any recurring themes or gaps. The data formed the evidence base from which a fit for purpose recommendations and report emerged.
The support that we received was tailored to fit the needs and ethos of our organisation. Tricky conversations were handled sensitively and we were left with some clear recommendations and tools that will support not just this programme but future work.
Stephanie Edusei, Chief Executive, St Oswald’s Hospice Ltd
It was very clear St Oswald’s colleagues were passionate about delivering excellent services to patients and families. There was a high degree of enthusiasm to support the Hospice’s strategic ambitions. There was also evidence of a ‘Tech-lash’ resulting from the rapid deployment of new digital systems and introduction of new ways of working, which created a loss of trust in new technologies. As a result there were pockets of resistance in some sectors of the Hospice.
The data also suggested a desire for greater clarity around the digital components of the transformation journey and identified a requirement for the Leadership Team to take a more authoritative approach to decision making to enable the transformation programme to progress.
As a result the NECS team developed the following deliverables;
• Developed a report which captured the voice, experience, and requirements of St Oswald stakeholders to progress the programme of transformation, quantifying priority areas whilst ensuring strategic and cultural alignment.
• Decision Making – NECS designed a decision-making tool, which assessed decisions based on their alignment to the Hospice’s aims. This removed barriers and subjectivity and supported situational decision making.
• Change Management – NECS designed a change methodology to provide structure and promote accountability whilst wrapping around the digital transformation.
• Governance – NECS provided tailored options for a governance structure to embed a collaborative approach and create a unified transformation implementation programme.
Download the full case study here: Digital Transformation Case Study