More healthcare to go online in England under digitisation plan

People in England will receive more healthcare treatments online, enabling them to check NHS records, receive messages from their GP and attend virtual wards, under government plans to digitise healthcare.

Ministers hope that the expansion of technology will free up hospital beds and clinician time by enabling doctors and nurses to monitor about 500,000 people remotely.

The plan for digital health and social care, publicado el miércoles, also sets out how patients will be able to manage hospital appointments, book Covid vaccines and have virtual consultations through the NHS app, cual 28 million people now have, by March 2023.

La secretaria de salud, Sajid Javid, dicho: “We are embarking on a radical programme of modernisation that will make sure the NHS is set up to meet the challenges of 2048 – not 1948, when it was first established.

“Ensuring more personalisation and better join up of the system will benefit patients, free up clinician time, and help us to bust the Covid backlogs.”

The Department for Salud y Atención Social (DHSC) said the plan, which will use £2bn of money earmarked for NHS digitisation in the spending review, is intended to “save billions in taxpayers’ money while also promoting economic growth and private investment”.

The department said more than 280,000 people already used remote monitoring at home and in care homes for long-term conditions in the last year, resulting in improved outcomes, with problems picked up earlier, shorter stays in hospital, and fewer admissions.

By September 2024, patients will be able to complete hospital pre-assessment checks from home.

The plan builds on the NHS data strategy, announced by Javid this month, which aims to have three-quarters of the adult population in England registered with the NHS app within the next two years. He said this would give them “more control of their own care at home, picking up problems sooner and seeking help earlier”.

Under the latest plan, care teams will also be able to better share information through joined-up digital health and social care records.

Fewer than half (45%) of social care providers use a digital social care record, y 23% of care home staff cannot access the internet consistently at work, according to the DHSC.

Dr Timothy Ferris, national director of transformation at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said the plan “sets out an ambitious vision for a future where the NHS puts more power and information at patients’ fingertips, and staff have the tools they need to deliver better and more joined-up services for those who need them”.

Layla McCay, director of policy at NHS Confederation, said the plan was “an important step” to enable vital data to be shared more widely, but warned that the rollout “will be challenging and must be done carefully not to exacerbate inequality”, including by investing in IT infrastructure and NHS workforce recruitment and retention.

A national digital workforce strategy is to be developed, which will create 10,500 more positions in the data and tech workforce as part of several measures aimed at strengthening workers’ skills and making the NHS an attractive place to work for digital professionals. How to use the digital technology will also be included in university curriculums in degrees that train future NHS staff, while accessible training will be provided to adult social care workers.

Dr Pritesh Mistry, digital fellow at the King’s Fund, said the biggest risk to the government’s vision was the “lack of capacity among the health and care workforce”.

Él agregó: “NHS and social care staff are already under intense pressure and many will wonder where they will find the time needed to learn the new skills to use technologies, change organisational culture to work better with tech innovators, and avoid the pitfall of implementing new tech without adequately consulting the staff and patients who will use it.”

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