The National Information Board’s framework for action will provide a guiding set of principles for a “revolution” in healthcare IT, Health and Social Care Information Centre chief executive Andy Williams has said.
Speaking at EHI Live 2014 in Birmingham this morning, Williams said the long-awaited strategy – due to be unveiled on 13 November – will address questions about how to make better use of data and technology in health and social care.
“I think we’ve actually got an amazing opportunity to change healthcare for the better by actually using information and technology right this time.
“There’s a revolution coming, and like all good revolutions, it’s coming from the bottom up, not the top down.”
Williams said the strategy will be backed by a speech on technology by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
It will focus on six key areas: giving care professionals the data they need; supporting care professionals to make the best use of data and technology; making the quality of care transparent; helping patients to make the right health choices; bringing forward life-saving treatments and while supporting innovation and growth; and ensuring best value for the taxpayer.
“It will provide a guiding set of principles for everybody to implement the technology that certainly I’d like to see across health and social care.”
Williams said the strategy will help to close the technology gap between healthcare and other industries. He pointed out that while 76% of the population use the internet and 61% have a smartphone; only 2% report some sort of digital transaction with the NHS.
“We operate in a world where if you want to book a flight or do banking, you instinctively do it online most of the time, but we don’t do that when it comes to the NHS.”
Williams said another key issue is addressing concerns about information governance and data privacy to ensure patients are happy for their information to be shared.
“If we believe that we’re going to make the system better, and that a lot of that is to do with sharing information and passing it around more freely…we have to earn the right to use it for the benefit of patients.”
The strategy will also encourage stronger benefits cases for the use of IT in health and social care, he said.
“There are a lot of benefits cases out there about the use of technology and information, and they’re OK, but I think we can do a better job of understanding what the benefits of these are.”
Williams said the strategy has been agreed on by all major health organisations, which is a vital to its chances of success.
“The important thing is that it has got the agreement of NHS England, the health and social care community, and allthe arm’s length bodies that need to play at a national level to make this happen.”
It will focus on encouraging innovation at a local level as well as nationally, while also helping to change some people’s attitudes towards health IT, he said.
“This is not top down: this is about what we need to do nationally, but also what we need to do to enable things to happen locally.
“However you describe the future in terms of technology, it all amounts to the same thing: it’s less a tech problem and much more about will and people wanting to do these sorts of things.”