The digital NHS

24 May 2018

The £4.7 billion digital transformation of the health and care system will see huge improvements to the quality of care and convenience of services for patients. It will also enable us to meet the increasing demand for services set out in the Five Year Forward View.

The work I am leading covers all patient-facing parts of this transformation; empowering people to take control of their health and care through secure online access to clinicians, personalised health information and digital tools and advice.

We’ve already made great progress. Free Wi-Fi is now available in GP practices across the country and will be rolled out to secondary care providers by the end of the year. 14 million patients are registered for GP online services and NHS Choices now works better on mobile than ever before.

We’ve launched pilots of an NHS app that will give patients a single point of access to local and national digital health services. Our ‘NHS Apps’ library now features 47 trusted apps to help people manage and improve their health across a variety of conditions from diabetes to mental health. Visits to the library have more than tripled since its launched.

Soon we will publish guidance to help local organisations ensure that systems which bring together patients’ information in one place are high-quality and connectable. And we’ll begin testing a single system for verifying the identity of those requesting access to digital health records and services.

Excellence in digital services cannot be achieved in isolation. We are currently building an open and connectable platform that will make it easy for innovative developers to plug their technology into our single, joined-up NHS app and start making a difference to patients.

We are also supporting developers inside and outside of the health and care system through the Health Developer Network to improve the standard of digital apps for patients. This involves working closely with Chief Information Officers and Chief Clinical Information Officers to ensure the best digital services for their unique patient populations.

As part of our work to transform ‘NHS Choices’ into an improved site known as nhs.uk, we are working with the public, clinicians and health organisations to better understand their needs. As a result we have already produced, and begun testing of, tailored content for those experiencing mental health problems, which will help them make more informed decisions about their health.

Across all of these tools and services we are working in an agile way – reviewing, revising and adjusting as we go – in order to help the best developments go further, faster, so that patients can benefit sooner.

The digital NHS that will result from this transformation will mean that patients receive a more personalised experience, with convenient advice, support and care uniquely tailored to each person. Services will appear more joined-up and patients will understand how to, and be empowered to, navigate between them to get to the care they need.

That’s a really exciting future for the health and care system and the people it serves, and I’m delighted to be leading us there.

Juliet Bauer, Chief Digital Officer, NHS England

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