Health and social care leaders set out plans to transform people’s health and improve services using technology

Radical new plans to improve health outcomes and the quality of patient care through digital technology and innovation have been unveiled by national health and social care organisations today.

Established by the Department of Health and chaired by NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, Tim Kelsey, the National Information Board has set out a bold vision for how technology should work harder and better for patients and citizens by 2020.

The vision commits to giving everybody online access to their GP records, viewed through approved apps and digital platforms, by 2015.

GP practices are well on their way to achieving this but national leaders want to go one step further by offering people access to all of their health records – held by hospitals, community, mental health and social care services – by 2018.

In just four years, every citizen will be able to access their health records at the click of a button, detailing every visit to the GP and hospital, every prescription, test results, and adverse reactions and allergies to drugs.  Patients will also be able to record their preferences and thoughts alongside official medical notes.

The alliance will establish a national digital standard for people at the end of life – building on the success of Co-ordinate My Care in London – so their care preferences are respected.  The digitisation of the Personal Child Health Record (the red book) will offer new mothers personalised mobile care records for their child.

Read the framework document and more information on the website

Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt said: “I want the NHS to be a world class showcase of what innovation can achieve. Today’s plan sets out how we can give patients 21st century, personalised healthcare.”

Tim Kelsey, National Informatics Director, said: “New mothers will now be able to carry their red book around with them on their smart phone and tablet as the NHS moves towards offering digital Personal Child Health Records.  This will put an end to worrying about leaving your child’s information at home when going for a review, vaccination, or emergency treatment.

“We must embrace modern technology to help us lead healthier lives, and if we want – to take more control when are ill.”

“Our ambition is to make the NHS a digital pioneer for our patients and citizens”

The framework will set out how real time data will be available to paramedics, doctors and nurses, ensuring patients receive safe and effective at the point of care.  All NHS funded care services are expected to have digital and interoperable systems that remove the limitations of paper records and slow bureaucratic systems by 2020.

Andy Williams, Chief Executive of The Health and Social Care Information Centre, said: “The HSCIC has a key role in supporting local innovation and providing national applications to help information sharing.  Ensuring all parts of health and care follow the same standards so that their information systems can talk to each other is crucial, if we are to take advantage of the latest digital technology.  Equally required is public trust in our custodianship of national data and the controls we have put in place.  Trust depends on openness and responsiveness and the HSCIC remains fully committed to building this into all digital development.”

The plans also include:

  • NHS ‘Kitemarks’ for trusted smartphone apps which will help patients access services and take more control of their health and wellbeing in 2015
  • Patients to be able to access their own GP record from spring 2015, and will have full access to care records by 2018.  Patients will be able to record their own comments.
  • Patients will only have to tell their story once. With consent, care records will be available electronically across the health system by 2018 for urgent care services and 2020 for all services – dramatically improving coordination of care, particularly for those with complex conditions.
  • Introducing a digital ‘red book’– helping parents to manage their child’s early health records – in 2016
  • Ensuring the NHS remains a leader in the global race to fight disease and as a hub for genomics research. Developing innovative personalised medicines will mean the right treatment, first time.

Jane Cummings, the Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “The practical application of technology on the frontline will allow our nurses and other health-workers to concentrate on what is important – giving meaningful and compassionate care to patients.

“Being smarter with data and technology has the potential to make a world of difference to patients, while ensuring best value for the taxpayer.”

Aside from the clear benefits for patient care and disease prevention, better use of technology will help create a more efficient NHS. The alliance’s report sets out examples where this is already happening.  Technology will play a vital role in helping contribute to the £22bn in efficiency savings needed to sustain the NHS, as set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

Key members include the Health and Social Care Information Centre, Monitor, the CQC, the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA), Public Health England, the Local Government Association and clinical leaders.

Professor John Newton, Chief Knowledge Officer, Public Health England, said, “Digital technology and innovation has the potential to not only revolutionise the NHS and but also how individual’s approach and manage their own health and wellbeing.  In addition, Public Health England will be contributing its expertise to achieving this transformation.”

David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, said: “Using information from the public and from other organisations is a crucial part of how we check the care that people receive – it helps us to make decisions about where and when we inspect. This plan outlines improvements to the way the health and social care system uses data and is a real opportunity to make the NHS and wider health and social care system fit for the modern digital age.”

Ian Trenholm, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “NHS Blood and Transplant is committed to using data and technology to save and improve lives.

“We have made significant improvements in the way we use technology to interact with blood donors, with over half a million of them already using our real-time digital booking system to manage their blood donation appointments online or via their smart phone or tablet computers. Over 75% of registrations to the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR) come to us electronically. We already link directly to hospitals to enable the rapid ordering of blood and the delivery of test results, and have plans to do more. As a national NHS organisation we know we have a key role to play in the development and wide adoption of digital services that help patients.”