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by Dominic Tyer
NHS fund will also support new services that help share healthcare information
The UK government is offering up to £99,000 to NHS organisations to support the development of new digital services that improve patient care and help share information across the health service.
In line with the NHS information strategy that was launched earlier this year, the new Information Sharing Challenge Fund is open to ideas that will “change the way information is used”.
This could be by helping NHS staff, clinicians and patients access information when they need to and allowing patients to be involved in decisions about their care if they wish to be.
Ailsa Claire, the NHS Commissioning Board Authority's transition director for patients and intelligence, said: “The recently published NHS Information Strategy highlights the need for a “connect all” approach to IT systems and the Information Sharing Challenge fund is all about helping care services collaborate. There are many opportunities for effective information sharing between NHS organisations, social services and the third sector.
“The public rightly expects the NHS, social care and other organisations to work together. Encouraging local innovation in this way will allow for better integrated care and allow patients to access their information so they can make decisions based on what they need.”
Although the new fund's focus appears to be skewed towards opening up information, the Department of Health is also looking for new ways to use IT within the NHS.
Here it cited maternity digital capture and telehealth and their use of digital systems such as tablet PCs, digital pens and remote monitoring systems to transfer data to central clinical records as examples of innovative IT currently being piloted in the NHS.
Health Minister Lord Howe said: “We want to support doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to be innovative in the NHS. That is why we have created this fund to encourage NHS organisations to come up with new digital ideas that not only improve services for patients but help create an environment where local IT information can be more easily shared across the NHS.”
NHS organisations have until October, 5 to apply for a grant from the Information Sharing Challenge Fund of up to £99,000, though the DH says few awards will be for more than £75,000 and the majority of awards will be for less than £50,000.
In order to be eligible for consideration for funding, ideas be expected to be easily adoptable by other NHS organisations. They would also need to work within the IT standards of the NHS Interoperability Toolkit and, perhaps crucially in these cash-strapped times, demonstrate value for money.