Computer Weekly UKtech50: Rising Stars 2014

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Stephen Hale, head of digital, Department of Health

“I want to make digital less of a novelty,” the Department of Health’s head of digital, Stephen Hale, told Computer Weekly earlier this year.

“Part of our job is to do us out of a job in a way. We make digital mainstream, so we stop noticing it as innovative,” he said.

The Department of Health’s digital team, which was set up at end of 2013 and is now led by Hale, ensures the department uses digital to make better policy and that it is part of everything the department does.

“The challenge is to drive up the confidence of leaders and staff so it doesn’t feel innovative, but rather the best solution the problem,” he said. “Digital is such a broad term – the more you think about it, the more it can help with everything. Not just how you can make campaigns, but how you can provide better services.”

But digital can’t just be a case study or a novel project. Hale says it needs to be a mentality that is accepted by the department to drive change.

While the Department of Health has been innovative with one-off digital campaigns, Hale said these aren’t enough and only have limited lasting value. The digital team is trying to follow in the footsteps of the Government Digital Service (GDS), he said, by bringing digital expertise into health, rather than paying other providers to do so.

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