The health and care secretary set out four priorities for transforming health care that included increased use of remote monitoring technologies and better use of data
"We need to show people that the app is for life, not just for Covid, and that it will be a future front door for interacting with the NHS.” Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary
The health and care secretary, Sajid Javid, wants 90% of NHS trusts to have an electronic patient record (EPR) by December 2023.
Speaking at the Health Service Journal’s Digital Transformation Summit last week, Javid set out his four priorities for transforming health care: making sure the NHS is set up properly for success; levelling up across the NHS and social care; pursuing personalisation; and making “big breakthrough bets” on emerging technologies and data.
It was essential, he said, to make sure that the NHS had the structures in place to support digital transformation, which could only work if it was “foremost in the minds of everyone at the top table, especially the CEO of the organisation.” Responsibility for digitisation could not sit outside an organisation, he said, which was why he had decided to merge NHSX and NHS Digital into NHS England.
The second priority, levelling up, required all hospital trusts to have EPRs, which, Javid said, were “the essential prerequisite for a modern, digital NHS.” Currently one in five were still without an EPR. He wanted to “accelerate the rollout” so that by the end of December 2023, 90% of trusts would have an EPR, while the remaining 10% would be in the process of implementing one. Similarly, only 40% of social care providers have a digital care record, and he wanted that to increase to 80% by March 2024.
Javid’s third priority was to “keep driving the personalised technologies that have blossomed during the pandemic.” Half of adults in England have the NHS app, and he wanted to increase that to 75% by March 2024. He added: “Now to get there we need to show people that the app is for life, not just for Covid, and that it will be a future front door for interacting with the NHS.” There was an unique opportunity, he said, to “use platforms like apps and websites to access diagnostics and therapies, helping them to manage their own conditions.”
He also wanted to “intensify the pace of the rollout of virtual wards” to enable more people to have conditions monitored remotely in their own homes. As an example, he cited Norfolk and Norwich NHS Foundation Trust, which set up a virtual ward a year ago and which has already freed up over 6,000 bed days for inpatients. The initiative has patient satisfaction levels of 99%, he said.
Javid’s final priority was to “make the most of emerging technologies and data.” As an example, he cited Milton Keynes Hospital, “the first hospital in Europe to use surgical robots for major operations.” He pointed out that 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.” He wanted to make it “smoother and safer for researchers to access and use data through requiring the use of trusted research environments.”