Health minister Dr Dan Poulter has signalled the Department of Health’s continued support for NHS IT under its new health secretary in a speech to EHI Live 2012.

Dr Poulter, who retains a part time clinical role in the NHS as an obstetrician, gave a broad brush speech in which he reiterated key parts of the NHS information strategy’s vision for improving patient care and delivering efficiencies through technology.

The speech was in large parts familiar, with an emphasis on how NHS IT must catch up with the information revolution in others areas of our lives.

Dr Poulter said: “Information technology can empower people to make better choices about their healthcare and the government is committed to that.

“Our new secretary of state Jeremy Hunt wants me to send that message to you today.”

He went on to repeat former health secretary Andrew Lansley’s mantra of “no decision about me without me” saying: “Technology will help us make sure that this becomes the reality for every patient.”

He outlined a continued role for the DH and NHS Commissioning Board beyond 2016, when the national contracts placed by the National Programme for IT in the NHS start to wind down.

National infrastructure such as the national data spine would remain a national responsibility, for example, but many more developments must be under local leadership and control.

“Improved IT needs to be controlled locally and responding to local priorities,” he said.

“We will provide national support where there is a clear single need to support local innovation and choice, for example in championing national information standards for sharing information across health and social care.”

Returning to another familiar theme, he said that IT must be needs led rather than technology led.

“Harnessing technology is key to securing better outcomes for patients and to all of us securing more for the resources we have. This is not about gizmos but about using technology to improve care for patients.”

Asked where the remaining money from the National Programme for IT had gone, he said: “We are continuing to invest in new technology.”

Prime minister David Cameron had recently announced a £100m innovation fund to find technological solutions that would release nurses from form filling, he said.

Meanwhile, the NHS continues to invest in telehealth, which he viewed as a crucial part of the solution to supporting older people with chronic health needs.

He said: “A lot of that money is being reinvested. It is about making sure we carry through targeted interventions to support technology in the right place.”