White Paper makes a clarion call to accelerate digital healthcare

How the rapid uptake of digital services as a result of the pandemic can transform UK healthcare

Public Policy Projects published this White Paper: Accelerating Digital Healthcare in October.

It was developed in consultation with chief information officers, digital providers and innovators. It contains 22 recommendations to maximise the potential of clinical services and healthcare provision.

The executive summary acknowledges that the patient is the data controller in charge of their own personal health record but is concerned about digital exclusion. It talks of the need for widespread cultural change, for services to be designed in partnership with users and for more emphasis to be placed on Global Digital Exemplar blue prints. Consultation with SMEs is also recommended together with a national centre of procurement excellence under NHSX.

It is particularly noted that up to 60 per cent of social care providers are single institutions which struggle to navigate procurement procedures so both local authorities and Integrated Care Systems should help them procure digital solutions that meet the minimum standards.

Readers will want to digest the recommendations in detail. They are summarised at pages 6 – 7 and then covered in more detail in three chapters:

  • Digital technology at the heart of the NHS – recommendations 1 - 6
  • Minimum digital functionality and interoperability – recommendations 7 - 12
  • Transformational procurement – recommendations 13 - 22

The following recommendations may be of particular interest:

  • There is an urgent need for substantial investment in consolidating raw data, speeding the process begun by Health Data Research UK in order to unlock the potential of this data.
  • Providers of health and care should not be registered by CQC unless they can achieve a minimum digital functionality.
  • NHSX should be responsible for setting out the minimum digital functionality as soon as possible which should be mandatory for all registered providers of health and care services to meet, ideally ahead of current 2024 deadline. Compliance should be overseen by NHSX, ideally via CQC.
  • Integrated Care Systems should have a legal authority and be given a responsibility for driving integration via digital investment. They will require a minimum budget of £10m per Integrated Care System to fund integration projects between NHS, social care and other bodies.
  • Purchasers should be discouraged from conducting their own pilot or proof of concept and should look to Global Digital Exemplar blueprints and engage with fast follower replication.
  • To ensure procurement teams are aware of the latest innovations there should be greater use of pre tender exercises, market sounding events and supplier days.
  • There should be further exploration of innovative funding arrangements which allow for fairness, transparency and benefits for all parties.

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