Sajid Javid sets priorities for harnessing the power of technology to focus on personalised care and levelling up
Among his priorities, Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, outlined plans for 90% of NHS trusts to adopt electronic patient records by December 2023
Patients and health and care staff across the country will benefit from more-personalised, easier-to-access, digitally-delivered services as the Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, delivered his first health technology-focused speech since his appointment.
Speaking at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Digital Transformation Summit, Javid set out his plans for a more-inclusive digital health service which better harnesses the power of innovation to drive a new era of recovery and reform.
The move puts digital transformation at the heart of health and care reforms and it will be instrumental in embedding technologies and processes which will help clear the COVID backlog, in time leading to reductions in waiting lists.
In his speech, he announced ambitions including:
Javid 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 does not have electronic patient records, which are the essential prerequisite for a modern, digital NHS.
We have undeniably seen brilliant progress, but this progress hasn’t always been consistent across the board
“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.
“And I want to see a particular focus on social care, where around 40% of providers are still grappling entirely with paper-based records. So I want to see all social care providers adopt a digital social care record.”
On increasing the number of people using the NHS App, he added: “To get to our target, 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 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.”
He also set out his ambitions to utilise NHS data to drive innovation, building on the pioneering work during the pandemic to develop diagnostics and treatment for COVID-19, including the RECOVERY trial which led to the discovery of Dexamethasone, the world’s-first proven treatment for COVID-19 in just 100 days, a move that has saved at least a million lives across the world.
Javid 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.
By developing a gold-standard, security-driven environment, researchers will be encouraged to drive innovation, while ensuring patient data is protected to the highest standard
“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.
“By developing a gold-standard, security-driven environment, researchers will be encouraged to drive innovation, while ensuring patient data is protected to the highest standard.”
Looking to the future, he announced his intention to publish a Digital Health Plan later this year which will build on lessons learned from the pandemic and drive change across the digital health space.
There’s a danger that projects may create shiny-new digital technology siloes when the real need is for technology that enables truly-unified administrative processes to help clinicians and patients alike
Responding to his speech, Peter Wilson, public sector industry architect at Pegasystems, told BBH that, while welcomed, the announcement missed vital opportunities to truly embed technology, adding: “The Health Secretary’s speech is certainly great news, but it is important that the effort goes much further than simply increased rollout of electronic health records and higher uptake of the NHS app.
“We need to see a more-pragmatic way to address people, process, and data unification across the NHS, while taking account of the real-time critical nature of work and breadth of activities to support the Integrated Care Systems (ICS).
“There’s a danger that projects may create shiny-new digital technology siloes when the real need is for technology that enables truly-unified administrative processes to help clinicians and patients alike.
“We would argue that this forms the case for a more-pervasive case management approach, underpinned by a feature-rich unified platform.
“The considerations for investment in technology solutions are crucial as this sets the tone to transform patient experience and optimise healthcare provision meaningfully and realistically.
“A unified platform that can better automate patient data, across all components of an ICS structure, ensures the ability to place patients more effectively on the right pathway to get the right treatment, at the right time, applying a 1:1 focus, but in the wider context of total workload, backlog, and prioritisation.”