The NHS Long-term plan highlights the importance of innovation to improve efficiency in the NHS.


The NHS Long term plan – a new insight into the possible

Lisa Simmons

Clinical Implementations Manager

The NHS Long-term plan highlights the importance of innovation to improve efficiency in the NHS. The plan dedicates a whole chapter to digital health alone and the use of digital health is clearly embedded throughout every part of the plan, for all ages and all conditions.

I worked for the NHS as a Speech and Language Therapist for 9 years. I specialised early in my career and worked my way up to being a highly specialist Speech and Language Therapist. I enjoyed helping clients and working with families and a wide variety of professionals. But I wanted a new challenge.

I was aware of digital health from working in the NHS, and I was sure there was a way technology could be used to improve patient care and experience. But as clinicians, we never seemed to be able to harness the technology or really integrate it into our care.

But in December I took the leap from being an NHS employee to working for ORCHA, which has given me new insight and hope.


Now from within ORCHA, I can see it is the obvious and achievable future of health care, with five key considerations:

  1. Timing: It is not going to be a quick fix for the NHS, and shouldn’t be seen as this, but as a long-term shift in approach.
  2. Collaboration: digital health is not instead of clinicians, but to extend the impact of clinicians.
  3. Reach: Digital health certainly does not work for everyone, but, it can work for a high percentage of the population.
  4. Patient focus: ensure programmes stay aimed at the patient and we will see gains in terms of patient engagement and patient experience.
  5. Cost benefit: make sure measures comparing impact are tracked and we will see impact on the strain on the over-stretched NHS services that are trying to be all things to all people.


Whilst the NHS long term plan does, to some, appear to present ideas that seem far reached; if applied with the right approach to timing, collaboration, reach, patient focus and cost benefit, it is not only achievable, it’s happening today in many places.

I read comments on twitter that the NHS long term plan would only be possible if the NHS works in collaboration with other organisations such including, education, charities and the private sector. As a clinician, I was not able to do my job effectively without working with other organisations, so it seems only right that this is reflected in all that the NHS does. The NHS can not achieve wrap-around care to the entire nation on its own and nor should it, that is not what it was designed for. There are organisations better placed to do the work, that are already trying to role out ideas that the NHS has suggested. This is why companies such as ORCHA and many others working in digital health, are ecstatic at the emphasis on digital health in the future of the NHS. We are already ready and raring to go with innovative ideas to make this plan happen.

“It’s easy to be cynical about the achievability of these big technology-driven shifts in outpatient care. But there are now at least four reasons not to be. They are already happening in parts of the NHS, so this is clearly ‘the art of the possible’. There is strong patient ‘pull’ for these new ways of accessing services, freeing-up staff time for those people who can’t or prefer not to. The hardware to support ‘mobile health’ is already in most people’s pockets – in the form of their smart phone – and the connection software is increasingly available for the NHS to credential from third party providers. And the Long Term Plan provides dedicated funding to capitalise on these opportunities…”

The bottom line is, whatever the difficulties and challenges people perceive the plan to present, the majority of the public are ready for the change and the NHS needs it.



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