This year, the role of IT and how well leaders have successfully led digital transformation played a major role in judging the HSJ100, writes David Hancock

The HSJ100 is always an interesting process to be part of. It is difficult to compare such a diverse set of people across different parts of the health and care system, because there are few objective criteria available.

However, the discussions between, and points of view of, the panel were illuminating and, perhaps surprisingly, generated a lot more light than heat. This is my third time on the panel and the thing that marked this year’s list of names and many of the discussions we had was around digital transformation, and being from an IT supplier this was gratifying.

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The role of IT and how well leaders have successfully led or enabled transformation is far more important and discussing influencers in these terms or how they provide infrastructure to support transformation gave us a lot to talk about.

Tim Ferris’ ranking in the top 10 came not only from the role he has been brought over to do, but the fact he achieved much as chief executive of Massachusetts General Hospital and vice president of population health at Mass General Brigham Integrated Care System.

With the first question in the recruitment process for the NHS chief executive role apparently about digital transformation, his influence and experience is clearly going to be important as I expect him to be leant on for support and advice as the NHS expects to achieve lasting improvement through the application of IT.

Serious discussion was made about the inclusion of Simon Bolton, chief executive of NHS Digital and Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX. It may come as no surprise that there is still confusion even amongst the judges on the difference between the two organisations.

What was more telling was a discussion on the respective CEOs backgrounds and management styles, and whilst both clearly have their strengths, the feeling that Mr Bolton’s experience as an international CIO working in fast moving and adaptive industry (eg car manufacturing) where digital transformation has existed for 20 years would stand him in greater stead for the organisation he is leading.

I for one am extremely encouraged by how he talks about the need for real collaboration and co-production and how he “shows” and not just “tells” people what he wants, and this cultural change should bring huge benefits to staff in NHS Digital and to the service as a whole. I truly hope we see it: it is long overdue.

Also read:

HSJ100: The government is back

HSJ80 full list: The most influential people in health

HSJ100: Judges

HSJ100: The wildcards



HSJ100: Government is back