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Health Secretary Outlines Ambitious Digital Transformation Plan For NHS

02nd Mar 2022

The Health and Social Care Secretary spoke at the HSJ Digital Transformation Summit, outlining plans for digital transformation in the healthcare sector.

The Health and Social Care Secretary has outlined his main objectives which involve focusing on personalised care, levelling up and applying the power of technology breakthroughs to care.

Automation will play a part in the levelling up, as electronic patient records will be rolled out to 90% of trusts by December 2023 which’ll enable NHS staff to access patient information quickly.

The goal is to have 75% of adults in England to be utilising the NHS App by March 2024 and there’re plans to release a digital health plan later this year.

Staff and patients across the country will feel the positive outcomes of a more personalised, more responsive and easily accessible digitally delivered health and care as Sajid Javid delivered his first health technology focused speech since his appointment as Health and Social Care Secretary.

The plan is going to aim for transforming the digital health service int a more inclusive space to drive the era of recovery and reform in a post covid Britain as the power of innovation will be harnessed, as Sajid Javid laid out his plans during the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Digital Transformation Summit.

This focus will place digital transformation at the centre of health and social care reforms and will be the key element in implementation of technologies and processes which will help clear the backlog of cases which have built up during the covid-19 pandemic and result in the reduction of wait lists.

He announced ambitions including:

  • By December 2023, 90% of NHS trusts to have electronic patient records in place or to be processing them and for all social care providers to be using a digital social care record – both will save clinicians time, for example up to 23,000 hours of nursing time will be freed up each year to be refocused back into care every year. Electronic treatment plans increase consistency, reduce risk and shorten the length of hospital stays, making care for patients faster and safer.
  • For 75% of adults in England to use the NHS App by March 2024 and expand functions on estimated wait times and personalised advice. This’ll enable people to take control of their health management by having access to their data, such as their GP health records, as well as making the ordering of repeat prescriptions more accessible, patients can book their appointments online and register preferences for services, such as organ donation, which will in turn save lives.

The Health and Social Care Secretary laid out his proposed targets for the roll out of electronic patient records across both health and social care. He said:

 

“We have undeniably seen brilliant progress. But this progress hasn’t always been consistent across the board – for example one in five trusts still do not have electronic patient records.

Electronic patient records are the essential prerequisite for a modern, digital NHS. Without them, we cannot achieve the full potential for reform.

So I want to accelerate the rollout of these vital records, with a new approach so that we hit 90% coverage by the end of next year.

I want to see a particular focus on social care, where around 40% of providers are still grappling entirely with paper-based records. So want to see all social care providers adopt a digital social care record.”

Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary

To reach the goal of 75% of all adults in England to use the NHS App by March 2024 and embrace a personalised, technological health and care experience, Sajid Javid said:

“Embracing personalised technologies, Sajid Javid will outline his ambition for 75% of the adults in England to use the NHS App by March 2024. He said:

To get there, we need to show people the app is for life, not just for COVID, and that it will be a future front door for interacting with the NHS.

The NHS is already working on new features, including how we can show estimated waiting times and the results of blood tests within the app.

The NHS app has shown how people are receptive to having healthcare literally in their hands – and we have the opportunity to use platforms like apps and websites to access diagnostics and therapies, helping them to manage their own conditions.”

Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary

 

He also has ambitions to utilise NHS data and drive innovation to build upon pioneering work that occurred during the pandemic, to level up diagnostics and treatment for covid-19, which includes the RECOVER trial which led to the discovery of Dexamethasone, the world’s first proven treatment for covid-19 in just 100 days, which has saved at least a million across the world. He said:

“NHS data is making the whole world safer and healthier.

Thanks to this country’s single, national health service, the NHS has a precious resource in the form of data that can offer so much insight to pioneers in the life sciences – including some of the world’s largest genomic datasets.

But we know that there is more to do to build trust in the use of data and reassure the public that the data will be used securely. For instance, making it smoother and safer for researchers to access and use data, through requiring the use of trusted research environments.”

Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary

Innovation will be encouraged by the development of a gold-standard security driven environment, which’ll also ensure patient data is protected to the highest standard.

Looking ahead, the Health and Social Care Secretary announced plans to publish a digital health plan later this year which will build on lessons learned during the pandemic and drive digital transformation across the health and social care sector.

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