The Department of Health is to review the market for hand-held devices for community-based staff, with a view to issuing guidance to primary care trusts on what is available.

The review was announced in a “progress report” on the final report of Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review of the NHS, which was published a year ago.

The report focuses on the measures that have been taken since High Quality Care For All was published to promote quality and innovation in the NHS, while taking account of the changed economic climate and new health secretary Andy Burnham’s desire for a greater focus on prevention.

The DH also announced this week that Jim Easton is to “transition” from his job as chief executive of NHS South Central into a new post as NHS national director for improvement and efficiency.

In his new role, he will drive forward what is becoming known as the QIPP – quality, innovation, productivity and prevention – agenda.

In a section on ‘better care closer to home’ in his update report, Lord Darzi says: “I am convinced that a relatively small investment in information technology, such as hand held devices and ‘tablets’, could help to improve patient care and create significant gains in efficiency.

“The DH will work with primary care trusts to review the costs and benefits of what is available, with a view to issuing advice this autumn.”

The update makes several other references to using IT to measure and improve quality and performance. It highlights the launch of NHS Evidence in April and the work that System C is doing to develop clinical dashboards, which it says will be available from October.

It also identifies a new, peer reviewed accreditation system for clinical teams as one of four key areas for further work, and resurrects one of the promises of last year’s Health Informatics Review by promising a review of data collection.

“We will refine targets based on evidence,” it says. “We will remove the obsolete 13 week outpatient and 26 week inpatient. We will remove the obsolete 13 week outpatient and 26 week inpatient performance targets, as well as reviewing data collections across the board in order to reduce the burden on front line staff.”

The other areas highlighted for action by the DH are giving budgets to clinical teams in hospitals and improving the health and wellbeing of NHS staff. Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said NHS targets would be converted into “enforceable” entitlements.

Link: High Quality Care for All: our journey so far on the Next Stage Review implementation website.