NHS trusts failing to embrace digital maturity

By Jo Makosinski | Published: 4-Aug-2023

Few NHS trusts have yet reached the top levels of the international HIMSS digital maturity benchmark, report claims

The digital maturity of the vast majority of NHS hospitals remains low, according to a new snapshot report from Digital Health Intelligence.

The newly-published Digital Maturity of NHS Acute Trusts report examines the progress of NHS acute trusts on digital maturity against the HIMSS Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) model, which until recently was NHS England’s preferred benchmark for hospital digital transformation.

Digital Health Intelligence asked trusts what level of maturity they had reached on the seven-tier model. 

And their responses suggest 76% of NHS acute trusts have not yet achieved level 5.

NHS England has previously required NHS acute trusts in receipt of national investment to achieve HIMSS Level 5 and above.

However, Digital Health Intelligence’s research shows that the NHS has fewer than a dozen hospitals that have reached the highest levels of digital maturity, with less than 9% of the total having achieved HIMSS EMRAM levels 6 and 7.

The NHS has long grappled with how best to measure progress on digital maturity and changes to assessment models seldom help

The model, which measures clinical outcomes, patient engagement, and clinician use of EMR technology, is due to be replaced by a new Digital Maturity Assessment after NHS England commissioned McKinsey to develop a new NHS-specific benchmark. 

Jon Hoeksma, chief executive of Digital Health, said: “The NHS has long grappled with how best to measure progress on digital maturity and changes to assessment models seldom help.

This leaves trusts in an anomalous position of having been exhorted to achieve digital maturity against the HIMSS EMRAM model, now facing rules that have been changed.  

“Those trusts that explicitly procured systems against a business case of achieving level 6 or 7 will likely invest in the assessment and validation required, but others are likely to wait to see how the new DMA will evolve and be used.

He added: “Our research is published at a time when the NHS faces some punchy targets for digitisation and EPR installations.

It marks the start of a new series of Digital Health Intelligence snapshot reports with further reports coming on digital ICS leaders, virtual wards, and patient engagement.

The data was collected from responses from 132 NHS acute trusts between June and August 2022.

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