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UK unveils digital health strategy

Plans greater use of mobile technology and will track NHS 'digital health maturity'

Digital health information 

The UK is set to ramp up its use of digital health technology in a bid to improve health outcomes and the quality of patient care.

The strategy acknowledges that, despite various efforts to make progress in the area, “the consumer experience of care services remains much as it was before the mobile phone and the internet became commonplace”.

To change this the government's plans include tracking the 'digital health maturity' of NHS services and improving multichannel access to NHS-accredited information and digital services and apps.

Health aps will be able to apply for a 'kitemark' starting from the end of next year - at which point approved apps and other digital services will be able to use the NHS brand and will be made accessible through the NHS Choices website.

But one of the most pressing objectives in the new Personal Health and Care 2020 framework is the looming deadline to give all citizens online access to their GP records, viewed through approved apps and digital platforms, by 2015.

This was originally to apply to all care records, but a two-stage process will now see access to all the remaining health records - including those held by hospitals, mental health and social care services - made available online by 2018.

To achieve this and its other aims the Department of Health (DoH) has established a National Information Board.

Chaired by NHS England's National director for patients and information Tim Kelsey, the Board's members include representatives from the MHRA, NICE, DoH and the Cabinet Office.

Kelsey said: “We must embrace modern technology to help us lead healthier lives, and if we want - to take more control when are ill. Our ambition is to make the NHS a digital pioneer for our patients and citizens.”

The government said that better use of technology will save the NHS money and life sciences minister George Freeman, speaking to PMLiVE, said greater use of telehealth, telemedicine and digitalisation could help government spend more on drugs.

Health data guardian

Alongside the Personal Health and Care 2020 framework the government has appointed Dame Fiona Caldicott as national data guardian for health and care.

The government said the move, and its associated legislative safeguards, marked “a significant step forward for safe and confidential information sharing between health and care organisations”.

It also pledged that no GP practice data would be extracted for the troubled care data programme until Dame Fiona advises the Secretary of State for Health she is satisfied with the proposals and safeguards.

17th November 2014

From: Healthcare

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