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UK to establish a digital academy for healthcare professionals

NHS technology plans will also see 12 trusts act as digitisation pioneers

NHS digital plans 

The UK has outlined multi-million pound plans to equip NHS professionals with the skills needed to deliver 'next generation, digital healthcare'.

The government will invite universities to host a new NHS digital academy that it hopes will also encourage a new generation of chief information officers to drive advances in digital health technology.

Another strand of the plans sees 12 trusts picked to act as digitisation pioneers. They will receive up to £10m and be expected to deliver pioneering approaches to digital services and help others in the NHS to learn from their experience.

The government wants these 'global exemplar' trusts to partner with an 'international organisation of their choice' to expand their digital health knowledge.

The moves follow in the wake of a review by US clinician Bob Wachter, who concluded the NHS must be modernised if its high levels of healthcare are to remain affordable.

“This transformation will involve enormous changes in culture, structure, governance, workforce and training,” the review noted.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Bob Wachter's excellent review made it clear that digitisation is as much about people as it is technology, and that this is a real opportunity to improve patient care for the long term. 

“We want to fast track existing digital excellence, as well as nurture new skills and expertise that we will need to deliver a new breed of digitised services.”

A next wave of 20 'national exemplar' is, Hunt said, in the pipeline. These will be tasked with improving their use of digital technology, for which they will receive intensive support from the forthcoming NHS digital academy and up to £5m each.

Broader online access and more digital services for patients

Meanwhile several advances in the digital services available to NHS patients are also planned. 

From the end of next year patients will be able to register with a GP and access their healthcare records online via the NHS Choices website, after it has been expanded and relaunched as NHS.UK.

The new NHS.UK site will also allow patients to securely download their personal health records.

NHS England is set to launch a new library of NHS-assessed apps - presumably building on the experience of the first NHS apps library - and provide advice on other wearable devices to help patients pick ones that can effectively monitor and improve their health.

NHS Digital chief executive Andy Williams said: “We have only just begun to achieve the true transformational change and deliver the real benefits that digital technologies can bring to doctors, nurses, social workers, patients and the public.”

The announcements were made at last week's Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, which also saw public health and innovation minister Nicola Blackwood detail an expansion of the cyber security services provided by NHS Digital's CareCERT (Care Computer Emergency Response Team).

Launched last November, CareCERT will establish a new e-learning portal, a cyber security assessment service and a support service, all of which will start being tested later this month.

12th September 2016

From: Healthcare

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