Digital future plans for the NHS

Is digital technology the way forward for future plans for the NHS?

Next July the NHS will celebrate its 73rd birthday. Further distribution of Covid-19 vaccines will make it a less gloomy occasion than last year’s, but there can be no doubt that the forces unleashed by the pandemic, most importantly digitalisation, will continue to reshape the institution.

The NHS employs 1.3 million members of staff – making it the UK’s largest employer, and one of the largest employers in the world.

As Covid-19 will continue to be a threat in 2021, the NHS must be ready to adapt to innovations quickly and prioritising the technology would be a positive step forward.

Speaking at the Digital Health Rewired virtual festival,  Matt Hancock announced he wants to explore whether a data platform can be created that separates the data layer from the application layer.

This includes creating a “consistent data platform” and implementing Shared Care Records across NHS, he said.

This would mean “providers can offer the application software, but the data will be stored separately and securely in the cloud and then we have a consistent data platform across the NHS”.

Zach Marzouk Image

NHS App has helped cut ‘did not attend’ rates by half.

In October 2020, NHS Digital integrated the e-Referral Service into the NHS App to give patients more control over their appointments and save GPs time.

GPs can email appointment booking details for the NHS e-Referral Service directly with patients with an NHS Login. Patients are then able to securely access the NHS Manage Your Referral website directly from the app.

Martin O’Keeffe, senior clinical lead at NHS Digital, said: “We’ve put the power back into patients’ hands, giving them another digital route to book and manage their own hospital appointments.

“The NHS App will provide an easy, quick and secure way to do this on the move, meaning many patients won’t have to wait for their referral details in the post before they book their first appointment.”

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