“We make the difference to healthcare transformation by never losing sight of the human element.”

We caught up with Rajvir Cheema, Partner, Digital Healthcare Advisory, to find out how he’s helping the NHS accelerate a secure digital transformation – when he’s not being a robot dinosaur for his kids!

Hi Raj. You’re a specialist in digital transformation for healthcare organisations. What does that involve?

There are three layers to it. Think of it as a pyramid of transformation.

The first layer is all about creating what we call a ‘trusted’ estate – in other words, a secure and resilient environment where patient data is safe but still accessible. That’s critical so that the NHS remains one of the most trusted brands in the world.

The second layer is all about designing and delivering enterprise ‘transformation’. I’m talking here about transformation that creates a step-change in the way an organisation delivers services, fulfils the needs of staff, and cares for patients and citizens.

At the top of the pyramid is ‘adoption’. You could spend millions putting in place a secure and scalable system. But if you don’t work on driving adoption, it won’t get used, meaning your investment is wasted, and we have seen the history books tell us that has happened before. This is a critical layer in making sure digital transformation ‘sticks’, so that you see improved performance, more economic and efficient services, and as a result better patient outcomes.

I can’t do all that on my own. To deliver this ‘pyramid’ of transformation, I work with capabilities from across KPMG – experts in tech, healthcare, customer-centricity, and adoption (to name but a few).

Why is digital transformation so important for healthcare and the NHS?

It’s not sustainable for the NHS to continue to deliver services the way it does now. It needs to embrace technology so that the NHS is still here for my great-grandchildren, and still delivering some of the best healthcare in the world.

It’s a big challenge for the NHS. But it’s also an opportunity. We’re at the start of the next period of evolution in care; where care becomes more joined up, and where innovative approaches will be used to transform patient and employee experience – in and outside the four walls of the hospital.

If we do our job right, the experience of citizens will be intuitive, natural, and seamless. That doesn’t mean simply digitising existing processes. It means using tech to break the mould, and disrupt the status quo.

Digital technology will underpin every aspect of the future of healthcare; either as a service or an enabler. So there is no option, we must get it right this time.

Raj, you’re helping healthcare organisations at a national and local level to accelerate their tech transformations. What do clients find most difficult?

A real struggle is in adopting and adapting to new ways of doing things, which can happen for many reasons. Either way, often the net result is that money spent doesn’t equal benefit realised.

Just take a look at the recent National Audit Office reports on transformation in healthcare; you can see there have been numerous attempts to digitise, at a significant cost, but they haven’t delivered the scaled transformation expected. Still to this day, there are many processes that are heavily reliant on paper, there’s IT equipment that’s creaking due to the demands being put on it from modernised processes, and patients still don’t feel in control of their own healthcare.

You can buy the latest AI to scan thousands of images to detect early signs of disease, but that’s only going to deliver insight and return on investment if its hosted on infrastructure that’s secure and can handle the processing power requirements. 

Things are changing though. There’s a wealth of learning from previous attempts, and the insight from the NAO reports, is exactly that, ‘insight’ – that means we can do things better in the future.  I’m already witnessing the seedlings of change, and a want to do things in a more ‘joined up’ way.

My clients are no longer looking at solving small tactical problems, but instead seeing how they can best tackle the workforce crisis, care backlogs, and ‘the shift left’ in a systematic manner, so that monies and transformation are seen and tackled in a connected, interdependent manner, where employees, citizens, and their staff are at the heart of the change with their benefit being a route driver. 

So, how are we helping the NHS with that – and what’s different about how KPMG approaches healthcare transformation?

We focus on bringing the best insight from across the globe to help the public sector to transform.

But how we make the difference is by never losing sight of the human element.

That means upskilling and transferring knowledge, making change sustainable so public sector clients aren’t dependent on us. When my clients can carry on driving change and delivering better outcomes for patients and employees long after we’ve gone, that’s when I know I’ve done my job well.

Nothing makes me prouder than revisiting an NHS Trust I helped a few years back and seeing how they’ve built on the foundations we left, and taken things to a new level. 

Is there a tech project you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of?

There are so many. But if I have to pick one …

Okay, so, recently, I led a team that looked at the local workforce crisis in the Midlands. We found that a lot of the talent wasn’t delivering for local organisations and local needs. Why? Because they could work remotely for other organisations across the UK and across the globe that paid higher wages. We helped our client change its approach to workforce, to think innovatively, and to use automation and machine learning to improve processes and services.

Right now, I’m lucky to be leading digital and innovation engagements at a national programme, which is shaping how services deliver health and care between now and 2030. 

Raj, let’s change tack and find out a bit more about you. What gets you out of the bed in the morning?


Okay, that and the fact that I genuinely love what I do.

I get to work/play with the latest tech and digital tools, and get to figure out how we can use such tools to configure solutions and services to improve the NHS – one of the most trusted brands in the world. I get to harness technology to solve problems – at a policy level with NHS England, but also at a local level, which means I can help the hospital where my kids were born.

That’s a cool job, right? 

And what do you get up to away from work?

I’m a family man first. My wife is a nurse who does a much more important job than me and that keeps me grounded. What I love to do away from work is be a spend time with my daughter and son.

When I’m not being a robot dinosaur for my kids, I teach Indian classical music to primary school and secondary school children. It’s a brilliant way to give something back to society.

Finally, I enjoy travelling and doing ‘TWP’… things with purpose! The last TWP being a food pop-up in India. We're not on this earth for a long time, so doing something to make a bit of an impact is important to me.