By Stephen Chadwick, managing director, Dassault Systèmes Northern Europe
The British public and UK businesses expect government information to be readily available online in easy to understand formats at no, or at least very low, cost. The same pertains for most information held by the NHS, councils and other public bodies.
That information, while it is often free, is not always so readily available, and the reason that is usually given is, ‘budgetary restrictions’. But digitisation is an investment that pays back handsome savings and delivers huge benefits to broader society.
Analysts at consultants McKinsey calculate that, “Capturing the full potential of government digitisation could free up to $1 trillion annually in economic value worldwide, through improved cost and operational performance.”
This is because shared services, greater collaboration and integration, improved fraud management, and productivity enhancements would enable system-wide efficiencies. At a time of increasing budgetary pressures, governments at national, regional, and local levels cannot afford to miss out on those savings.
Many countries are racing towards the goal of digitisation with electronic voting, tax and access government services. Multiple government data sources have been successfully combined to simplify and improve social and health services provision. The UK’s .gov.uk is an excellent single source of information from multiple departments.
Aiding rural populations
These services are a boon for many people, especially rural populations, those who can’t travel and everyone who wants extra convenience and time savings. However, despite the progress made, national and regional governments are far from capturing the full benefits of digitisation. To do so, they need to take their digital transformations deeper, beyond the provision of online services through e-government portals and into the broader business of government itself. That means looking for opportunities to improve productivity, collaboration, scale, process efficiency, and innovation.
This is particularly interesting at a time when radical technological changes such as big data analysis and its convergence with the Internet of Things are maturing and moving from vision to life. This very rapid pace of innovation increases the potential value of investments in governmental digitisation.
Efficient healthcare sector
The results, in terms of new forms of social, healthcare and other services and practices, can contribute to a much more cost effective and efficient healthcare sector, and better user and patient experiences. For example, a person who lives far from the nearest appropriate hospital, with a medical condition that requires regular check-ups, like heart problems; instead of having to take time consuming and physically demanding trips, modern technology can enable continuous monitoring of their health status, and consultations by doctors and experts, as video calls, could achieve the same quality of care as a physical meeting.
A specialist can then easily access and act on real time data for a remotely located patient anywhere in Britain, or indeed the rest or the world. An example of the type of project where Dassault Systèmes is contributing to this development is the Living Heart, with the ambition to create new ways of conducting cardiac care.
Full digitisation of the UK’s health sector is a project with significant challenges for security and privacy, availability, and reliability. But the social benefits already experienced from digitisation indicate that it is a sector with the potential to lead development toward the new digital age.
Digitisation of health services will be among the biggest public sector challenges over the next 20 years. If it is managed wisely it will bring the greatest of all benefits; healthier lives.
Dassault Systèmes, the 3DExperience company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations.