Strategic Systems and Technology

NHS England sets the direction for NHS information technology and informatics so that commissioners, providers and suppliers can make informed investment decisions, identifying, amongst the alternative approaches, those that deliver the highest quality care for patients. Frontline clinicians leading this agenda will ensure that systems are designed around optimal clinical workflows, enabling health and care professionals to do their jobs more effectively.

The Strategic Systems and Technology Directorate is responsible for realising the digital information needs of the NHS and for stimulating the development of new innovative information technology and information services to benefit patients, clinicians and the public.

Key deliverables for the Strategic Systems and Technology Directorate include:

  • enabling and supporting people to access and interact with their individual health records online should they wish to do so
  • facilitating the widespread adoption of modern, safe standards of electronic record-keeping
  • the re-launch of the Choose and Book service to make eReferrals available to patients and health professionals for all secondary care by 2015
  • enabling primary care providers to offer the facility to book GP appointments and order repeat prescriptions online
  • supporting hospitals to implement safe and effective electronic prescribing services for their patients
  • ensuring  that integrated digital care records (IDCRs) become universally available at the point of care for all clinical and care professionals
  • encouraging and facilitating the widespread adoption of the Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (EPS) programme which allows prescribers, such as doctors and practice nurses, to send prescriptions electronically to a dispenser, such as a pharmacy, of the patient’s choice
  • commissioning the nationally provided  IT infrastructure which underpins NHS services, such as the Spine (the national system which enables information to be shared across NHS care settings), N3 (the underlying network) and NHSmail (the secure email service).

In support of these objectives, the Strategic Systems and Technology Directorate has launched a number of initiatives and publications including:

The GP IT Operating Model

The GP IT operating model for general practice IT, Securing Excellence in GP IT Services: operating model 2nd edition (2014-16) sets out the operating arrangements for the delivery of GP IT services across England.  It outlines clear accountability, responsibility and financing support for general practice in England to receive high quality IT support services.  Find out more on the ‘Information technology in primary care’ page.

The Integrated Digital Care Fund and the Digital Maturity Index

In May 2014, NHS England published The Integrated Digital Care Fund: Achieving Integrated Health and Care Records. This builds on and updates Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards: Achieving an integrated digital care record, published in July 2013, which set out the pathway for NHS providers to move from paper-based record-keeping through “paper-light” to paperless systems.

To support the achievement of this, the Directorate is responsible for the delivery, administration and governance of the Integrated Digital Care Fund – £500 million of additional capital funding to enable health and care services to rapidly progress to digital systems and safe information flows between care providers.

The fund started life as the Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards Technology Fund and was aimed specifically at NHS Trusts. The second round of the application process opened in May 2014 and subsequently closed on 14 July.  For this and future rounds, it has been renamed the Integrated Digital Care Fund reflecting an increased emphasis on information sharing across organisational boundaries and the eligibility criteria have been widened to include local authorities.

Working in partnership with EHI Intelligence, the Strategic Systems and Technology Directorate launched the new Digital Maturity Index (DMI) in November 2013. This unique benchmarking tool provides a baseline analysis of the capability of all acute providers in the NHS in terms of systems and applications that they have invested in to support the creation of digital care records. NHS England offers this resource free to all NHS organisations.

Find out more about the Digital Maturity Index (DMI).

The Technology Strategy Community of Practice has been established to support the sharing of good practice, insight and experience. It is open to anyone in the NHS and the supplier market who wishes to facilitate innovation and provide/access peer support.

The Open API policy

NHS England’s policy on Open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) sets out the expectations on organisations when developing, upgrading or procuring their digital systems.

The Patient Online Programme

The Patient Online programme is supporting GP practices to offer online appointment booking and repeat prescriptions to patients who wish to use them. During the coming year, practices will increasingly expand online services to include access for patients to their GP-held records and by April 2015, all practices will offer these services.