The arrival of A plan for digital health and social care is the ninth strategic NHS document to follow the publication of the NHS Data strategy in June 2022.
The NHS’s digital goals are spread across a number of publications such as defining digital maturity for ICSs in What good looks like and more recently, the integration of primary care in the Fuller Stocktake. Readers can expect more digital elements in forthcoming strategies covering dementia, mental health, and urgent and emergency care – and in the updated NHS Long Term Plan.
The plan sets out a “vision for a digitally enabled health and social care system and how we can achieve it”- it is ambitious and encapsulates existing strategies, plans and guidance into one single action plan.
The DHSC’s plan is directed at leaders working across the health and social care and technology sectors, with the aim of equipping the wider system to:
- prevent people’s health and social care needs from escalating
- personalise health and social care and reduce health disparities
- improve the experience and impact of people providing services
- transform performance
Addressing the barriers to digital transformation
To speed system-wide progress to digital transformation, the plan addresses two main barriers in sections 1 and 2 so that by 2025:
- local digital foundations are embedded across the whole of the health and care system
- the entire system is equipped to deliver the benefits of digital transformation
The plan is divided into two sections with section 1 covering embedding digital technologies and section 2 describing what a digital transformed health and social care system will look like in practice. Appendix A summaries the action plan in detail, with appendix B drawing together the NHS App and website ambitions.
Digitise. Connect. Transform.
The plan summarises the commitments that will help the health and care system digitise, connect, and transform.
We highlight the key measures under each of these goals by way of example.
By March 2025, constituent organisations of an ICS have:
- met a minimum level of digital maturity as set out in What good looks like
- Interim milestones are:
- 90% of NHS trusts with electronic health records by December 2023, and 100% by March 2025
- 80% of CQC-registered adult social care providers with digital care records by March 2024
- Increased cyber security capability
- All parts of an ICS are linked to an integrated ‘life-long health and care record’ by 2024
- All ICSs have a population health and planning data platform by 2023
- Data for research and development is available through Trusted Research Environments by March 2025
- NHS App will be the ‘front-door’ for interacting with the NHS and receiving personalised cared
- Prevention and detection technologies used to protect the 20% of care home residents identified as high risk of falls by 2024
- Having the right assurance and commercial foundations in place by 2025 to foster collaboration between the health and care system and tech sector
Of course, there is a huge amount of detail in this and there are questions that need to be addressed in the plan, such as the needs and experiences of the patients which are described by the Digital Healthcare Council’s director, Catherine Davies in an article in this month’s National Health Executive e-magazine. That said, the important thing is that we know where we are going.
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