The Department of Health has released its IT priorities for the next year, with the National Information Board and support for the NIB's informatics strategy mentioned as key projects.
The DH’s corporate plan, released earlier this week, outlines its healthcare goals and priorities for the 2014-15 year.
Work on a “technology revolution” is one of ten priorities listed in the plan, with the DH stating it wants a “step change” in the way technology and information is used across the health and care system.
The plan says the DH will be working on establishing the National Information Board and sub-groups in the first quarter of 2014-15 “to develop a strategic decision-making and commissioning forum”, with a board informatics strategy published in the third quarter.
The establishment of the NIB represents a further step in the consolidation of national IT policy, commissioning and planning functions, which were split between the DH, NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre by the Lansley re-organisation of the NHS.
A DH spokeswoman told EHI new terms of reference for the board will be published soon, with information about its functions and the arrangement of its sub-groups.
The indication that the informatics strategy will be published in quarter three confirms that it has been further delayed.
When NHS England published its guidance on bidding for the first round of the tech fund last July, it said a technology strategy would be published in December. This became June; but now seems destined to be the autumn.
The NIB has developed out of the Informatics Services Commissioning Group, chaired by NHS England's director of patients and information, Tim Kelsey.
In February, EHI reported (http://www.ehi.co.uk/news/EHI/9222/national-information-board-detailed) that the Health and Social Care Information Centre had been made a full member of the board, which was also given its new name.
At the time, DH general information and group operations director Karen Wheeler said a review of the ISCG’s governance was carried out due to its fast development causing “growing pains” and some confusion about its processes.
Wheeler said the new arrangements would give the board greater power and certainty of delivery by better aligning the responsibilities of the DH, NHS England, and the HSCIC.
“The NIB will work for the entire system and will be directly accountable to the Department of Health,” she said.
The ISCG strengthened its role as a national co-ordinator of healthcare IT strategy since being established in late 2012, and is intended to provide a single voice for the different national bodies in charge of policy, commissioning and delivery.
Among other stated goals in the corporate plan, the DH wants to be in a position by the end of 2014-15 to deliver on health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s commitments regarding the availability of electronic referrals, appointment booking and prescription orders, as well as patient access to their electronic GP records.
It has the same deadline to deliver up to 8,000 whole genome sequences as part of the 100,000 Genome Project to sequence 100,000 genomes and link them with electronic patient records.
In the third quarter, the DH plans to publish comparable data on volumes, costs and digital take-up of online and offline health transactions.