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Health and social care leaders set out next steps to transform NHS services and improve health outcomes using technology and data

Health and social care leaders will today (17 June) unveil detailed plans to make technology work harder and faster for patients and increase transparency across more services.

Building on the successes of the last 12 months which have seen 97% of GP practices offering patients the chance to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view a summary of their GP records online, the plans commit to giving patients full access to their entire digital health record in real time by 2018.

A third of all ambulances now share their records digitally with A&E doctors, providing them with speedy access to critical clinical information. Under these proposals, doctors and nurses will be able to access the most up to date lifesaving information wherever they are in England by 2018 for primary, urgent and emergency care services and by 2020 for all other NHS funded services.

To drive up quality and efficiency, MyNHS will be expanded to include new information on local NHS commissioners and care homes. This step builds on the popularity of the MyNHS site, which has attracted over 200,000 visits since it was launched in September last year.

To underpin this and support the NHS on its journey to harness the power of data and technology, the National Information Board (NIB), established by the Department of Health and chaired by NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, Tim Kelsey, will look at the feasibility of turning the entire NHS estate into a free Wi-Fi zone.

Wi-Fi would reduce the administrative burden on doctors, nurses and care staff, currently estimated to take up to 70% of a junior doctor’s day, freeing up more time to be spent with patients.

It would also open up the possibility for ‘wearables’ to be used to monitor patients in hospital.  For example, over a fifth of patients with diabetes will have experienced a largely avoidable hypoglycemic episode whilst in hospital.  This technology can help patients and their doctors identify problems early.

Following Personalised Health and Care 2020 published by the National Information Board last November, today’s proposals mark a key moment in the journey to making technology work for patients.  Over the coming months the National Information Board and its partners will be engaging leaders and influencers from across the health and social care system to seek their views on the proposals before final publication in September.

Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information, said: “The NHS is embracing the offering of digital services to patients, with more than 55 million patients set to benefit from progress.

“As well as giving patients more choice and control, better use of technology can save money.  Letting people rebook online will help tackle the estimated £160 million that missed appointments cost the NHS each year.”

With over 50 million hits a month, NHS Choices will be the digital front door for online patient services as every citizen will soon be able to register for a GP; order prescriptions; access apps and digital tools; speak to their doctor online or via video link and view and take control of their full health record through a single online portal.

For people with long term conditions such as diabetes or asthma, devices, skin sensors or clothes which monitor health will be able to upload directly into patients’ records through this platform.

To help support the NHS’s National diabetes prevention programme, there will be a new online library of NHS approved digital tools, resources and apps that have a proven track record of effectiveness in helping people to live healthier lives. This follows the successful launch of the Mental Health Apps library on NHS Choices in March, which has since gathered over 47,000 hits.

HSCIC chief executive Andy Williams said: “The proposals announced today are a major step forward in using technology, data and information to transform the delivery of England’s health and social care services. The HSCIC looks forward to working with our partners to help local health and care organisations get the best out of these exciting new opportunities for the benefit of all patients.”

The roadmaps, which will be published in full on the National Information Board website over the coming days, are for discussion and further development with patients and the NHS and will be explored over a series of roadshows running throughout the summer. There will also be the opportunity to make comments and give feedback on the proposals via the website. The final roadmaps will be published in September at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in September.

The following proposals have also been put forward:

  • By March 2016, the NHS 111 digital service will be integrated into the NHS endorsement of third party ‘apps’ and digital services that support patients and citizens in June 2015.
  • By March 2016 an additional 150,000 citizens will be trained in digital skills.  Training resources and digital tools will be developed by August 2015.
  • By March 2016 we will extend the information available to clinicians in the Summary Care Record to include if a patient has learning disabilities or suffers from dementia. This will improve the experience for these patients and prevent them/their carers having to repeat important information each time they interact with the NHS.

To watch the livestream of the National Information Board meeting, which is taking place at the Kings Fund Digital Health Congress 2015.

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3 comments

  1. Jason Scott says:

    Free Wi-Fi implies public access, therefore separated from the network infrastructure which would deliver access to clinical systems. Most hospitals now provide Wi-Fi for employees and Trust owned devices, so they’re already exploring the benefits of mobile access to patient data. The next stage is to permit clinicians to use their own equipment (BYOD) and following on, the ability to use a common SSID across the NHS, similar to EDUROAM.

    Providing Wi-Fi is not hard – ensuring that it’s secure and there is technology to make many of the aging clinical apps available on mobile devices, is the real challenge.

  2. David Peach says:

    Improving Health outcomes using technology and Data as long as its within the NHS and not organisations brought about by the Department of Health such as HSCIC also not given to the Private Health sector i think it will be OK

  3. Michael Vidal says:

    I am concerned that people who either cannot or do not want to use the internet are going to be ignored or receive sub optimal care. While digital services are being pushed and developed at pace there does not seem to be the same time being spent on non digital ways of improving services.

    Also following the care.data fiasco I am suprised that the article did not mention anything about patient consent. The Department must learn that you need to explain and reassure people about the use of shared data. As you expand the number of people who are entitled to see data patients and the public would need reassurance that data shared for clinical reasons is not used by a non NHS organisation for other corporate purposes.