Blog Post Six ways that no-code is improving sustainable innovation in the NHS

Sustainable innovation is all about developing tech that delivers long lasting value for money, and is easy to justify and maintain. In NHS Trusts, the relationship between innovation and IT can get in the way of achieving these aims.

Innovation teams are focused on delivering lots of different solutions that meet a range of needs. When it comes to developing apps in NHS Trusts, this can mean onboarding multiple providers, which equals more time, management and budget.

It also piles stress on the relationship between the innovation and IT teams. Technical staff are often overwhelmed with projects – building apps isn’t usually their main priority and the additional work it takes to manage multiple providers can cause serious blockers.

All too often, this means that small, simple tasks get pushed back and innovation starts to stall, leaving Trusts wondering how they can approach innovation in a more sustainable way.

No-code development is helpful here as it removes a lot of the traditional blockers. It reinvents the development pipeline in a way that doesn’t overstretch IT staff, gets stakeholders on board and meets the needs of innovation teams.

Here are our top six ways that No-code is approaching sustainable innovation in NHS Trusts…

1. A centralised platform

App Rail provides one centralised platform. This gives innovation teams the power to work independently in a sandbox environment and means they can make changes to prototypes without needing any input from IT.

Compliance is also standardised, and there’s a clear split between production Apps and the sandbox environment. So, IT can focus on making sure that correct governance is in place while innovation teams proceed with bringing the idea to life.

2. Get validation earlier

The pitching process for NHS apps often throws up another problem. Pitches tend to follow a Dragons’ Den-style setup, where the innovation team uses a PowerPoint presentation to sell their idea to stakeholders.

The issue here is that they don't have a tangible product that's validated and tested. When stakeholders are being asked to commit upwards of a quarter of a million pounds, it doesn’t give them much to go on.

When you develop with No-code it gives you a huge head start of validation, allowing you to actually build a demo app and test it before you get to the pitch stage.

3. Improve funding opportunities

Developing a working prototype allows you to show what’s achievable with a small team and very little budget and make the case for what you could do with proper investment.

Stakeholders are more likely to invest because you’re able to show them:

4. Derisk at the project selection stage

Prototypes can be used for demonstration purposes at the pitching stage or to validate the concept through a pilot scheme.

We took the pilot scheme approach when we worked with UHCW Trust on their SpeakUp app. The app is designed to deal with staff complaints, so it was important to use a decent sample size to fully test the idea. In this case, the pilot involved 100 users.

During the pilot the team noticed the number of reported incidents going up. This was the proof that the team needed to take things forward. It gave them the weight to go through the necessary processes to roll it out to the entire trust of 11,000 people.

This example shows how important it is to derisk the project before you approach stakeholders for project selection. Go to them with a stronger proof point like this and they will see your project as a much safer bet.

5. Meet specific goals

All NHS Trusts set goals that they’re aiming to meet and these are made public as part of their annual reports.

One common target shared by all Trusts is to reach net zero carbon emissions, and there's a lot of competition to get ahead in that race and be the first to achieve the lowest emissions.

As a result, Trusts are putting a lot of money into programmes like ride sharing and buses, but they’re struggling to track the impact these are having on their emissions.

The App Rail NHS App Pack includes an App which tracks commutes to and from the trust properties, reporting on things like location and journey type, and then aggregates the information.

By providing data where there was none before, this out-of-the-box app provides a quick and simple solution to help trusts prove they’re meeting one of their key goals.

6. Address a wider set of outcomes

While all apps have a remit to help Trusts reach specific goals, in some cases, the data collected contributes towards addressing secondary goals.

One app that works on this wider level is a remote symptom tracking app that aims to help reduce hospital visits for patients.

By collecting information from patients much more frequently, the clinical team had a bigger pool of data to draw on to inform their decisions.

The kind of data that's collected feeds in to Patient Recorded Outcome Measures (PROMs), which are all about quality of life for the patient.

The app asks questions like:

This gives the clinician much more meaningful data than they can glean from a patient’s comment about not sleeping well because it’s recorded immediately.

If the same information is recorded on a daily basis, it provides more accurate data and this can quickly be correlated with other factors, such as a change in medication.

How can your team take a more sustainable approach to innovation?

Traditional means of app development rarely meet the needs of innovation teams in NHS Trusts. All too often they throw up obstacles that prevent progress and developing an app that’s truly sustainable can become little more than a pipe dream.

The answer is to simplify the build and put the power in the hands of the innovators using No-code.

Not only does this free up the tension with an overloaded IT department, it also speeds the whole process up, so stakeholders can see a concrete product quicker and make a decision on whether to invest.

The result? An app that delivers a wealth of meaningful data that helps you meet specific goals and demonstrates clear outcomes for your user groups.

NHS Trust? See how App Rail can help.