The Information Services Commissioning Group is to strengthen its role as a national co-ordinator of healthcare IT strategy.
It will publish a national technology strategy in March 2014 and will launch its own website, EHI Live 2013 has been told.
Speaking at the NEC in Birmingham, Beverley Bryant, director of strategic systems and technology at NHS England, said all the NHS arms length bodies will feed into the new strategy.
NHS England was due to publish its own technology strategy – ‘Unleashing the Power of People’ – next month, but Bryant said the organisation needs more time. It will also publish its strategy around March next year.
She said NHS England is taking the lead on the national technology strategy to ensure that "technology does not become a means in itself" and to pull together interests from across health and social care.
"It’s really important when creating a technology strategy that everything is grounded in clinical care, what’s best for patients," she told the packed auditorium.
Components of the system-wide strategy will include an: identity strategy; consolidated directory of services; architecture for integrated digital care records; security and information governance strategy; and the future funding model for underlying infrastructure.
"The only way to deliver this revolution is through collaboration with the market and IT professionals," said Bryant.
She explained that NHS England is starting to broker introductions between industry and NHS trusts that need help to get safe digital record keeping and is holding its "first big match-making event on 3 December."
Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s director of patients and information, echoed Bryant’s comments that an overarching strategy is needed, rather than multiple technology strategies from the different bodies in charge of policy, commissioning and delivery at a national level.
"The ISCG is a terrible name, and I want a better one," he said. "But it is important because all the national bodies are represented on it, and it will speak with a single voice."
The existence of the group, which is chaired by Kelsey, was revealed last year, and it is clear it is moving to take up an increasingly important co-ordinating role.
Most of Kelsey’s presentation concerned the other ‘offers’ that NHS England is making to the health service to drive transparency and the use of data in the NHS.
These include the new, care.data service, which will expand the Hospital Episode Statistics and start to link them to GP and other records from June next year. Kelsey said a consultation on extending care.data to social care will be run later this year.
In response to questions, he also made a firm commitment that patients would be able to opt out of having their data included, and that data within care.data would not be sold.
The session chair put it to Kelsey that it would be hard to secure support for care.data and similar initiatives if "there are stories in the Daily Mail saying that data will be sold to Bupa."
But Kelsey said the Daily Mail had never suggested such a thing and that it would never happen. "Let me be absolutely clear that people have a right to decide not to have their data shared for secondary uses, and we will not sell it to Bupa or anyone else," he added.
Kelsey emphasised that if researchers or companies are given permission to access the data, they will not be expected to pay. NHS England has previously said it will make a nominal, £1 charge.
Other ‘offers’ outlined include better access to information about patient views, a relaunch of NHS Choices, which Kelsey said would have open APIs so that people could access and re-use its data from next January, and patient access to records.
The government has said that it wants patients to have access to their medical records, starting with GP records in 2015. However, EHI established recently that the second commitment will only require access to the information in the Summary Care Record by this date.
Kelsey said he is still committed to giving patients wider access from 2015 and that he hoped to see them handing over their own information to researchers and others, or even mashing it up with Tesco Clubcard and other data.
Overall, he argued that the NHS is on the cusp of a new information revolution. "I think we can see the future, and some of it is already here," he added, citing the 46% of NHS patients already look for healthcare information online, and the 1m patients who have completed the friends and family test as evidence that people were already engaging with their care.