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Launching the third ‘Empower the Person’ roadmap

As Health Secretary Matt Hancock tells Expo 2018 of his vow to ‘bring the NHS into the 21st Century’ with £200million for new IT systems, the Chief Digital Officer for NHS England looks at personalised patient journeys of the future and the boom in people using online information:

We set out our ‘Empower the Person’ roadmap in February this year. 

This was the first time the future of digital health services for people and patients had been articulated in this way.

Since we launched we’ve had a great deal of interest – over 10,000 roadmap views – so I am really pleased that our vision and plan is getting out to NHS system leaders to refer to when planning digital services for their populations. 

We have updated and published version three of our roadmap in time for Expo 2018, highlighting our progress on personalising patient journeys. 

This is a great milestone to be part of, as it demonstrates that we’re making real continued progress in developing our digital tools and services. The improved NHS website, which has retired its NHS Choices branding, now has 95 new medicines pages, improved mental health, type 1 diabetes and social care content, it’s now more accessible, and works better on mobile devices than ever before. The result? A massive 31.1 million visits since mid –August.

What’s more, all the content isn’t only available on the NHS site, but is now being syndicated for free to other websites and channels through our open APIs.

We’ve also made great strides in supporting and enabling people to use digital health tools. Free NHS WiFi is now in 79 per cent of GP practices, serving a population of 46.5 million, and recent evaluation of some of our digital inclusion pathfinders has shown we’ve made a real difference to people in London and Sheffield by helping them manage their conditions using digital tools.

Now we’ve integrated the NHS Apps Library with the new NHS website, making it easier for developers to understand and complete the assessment process for submitting their apps, it’s no surprise that it boasts over 70 apps and has received over 14,500 visits in recent months.

So an enormous amount of work resulting in huge progress for patients, but we’re not stopping there. Our roadmap also shows the many more milestones planned. 

The NHS App, with its new identification system enabling secure log-in, is on track for live testing with selected CCGs and GP practices from the end of September. The digital assessment questions (DAQs) used to assess apps available within the apps library have been updated based on developer feedback, and we are working to incorporate this into the developer user interface. This, combined with our increased capacity to assess apps with our third party assessor framework now makes it easier for developers to receive approval. 

In addition we are expanding our PHR programme, working with localities to facilitate communities of practice, and working towards data standards for citizen-collected data. This work, along with the extensive work we’ve been doing with partners including NICE, MedCity, Public Health England and Digital Health London, will ensure that the evidence that supports digital technologies and algorithm assessment is the safest for patients, while not sacrificing usability. 

These are truly exciting times. I am positive that digital tools and services will transform health and care for the entire country, enabling a culture change from patients relying on their doctor for access to their health information and assistance with even the simplest health needs, to a more level exchange; a world where people are empowered to manage their health and wellbeing and get advice on the go whenever and wherever they are. 

If you’d like to input to or feedback on our plans, it’d be great to hear from you. Please get in touch at england.digitalhealth@nhs.net

Juliet Bauer

Juliet Bauer is NHS England’s Chief Digital Officer. She oversees a portfolio of digital services including the NHS website, NHS ‘assured’ apps library, and the development of digital services to empower patients to better manage their health and care, including long-term conditions such as diabetes.

Juliet has led the delivery of similar technology programmes in many sectors, including leading the move to take Times Newspapers online.