NHS England wants to create a Digital Child Health Hub to bring together information on a child’s health from multiple systems.

Digital Health News reported in January that the commissioning board was developing a five-year Children’s Health Digital Strategy, due to be published by summer 2016.

A draft strategy has since been published, which describes the plan for a Digital Child Health Hub, which would be accessible by both clinicians and patients and their carers.                           

The idea is to create a consolidated core clinical record for children and young people, drawn from existing information systems. Appointment booking or directories of local services will likely be provided by the newly revamped NHS.uk website, and the two will work seamlessly together as part of the online hub.

Interoperability is key, the strategy says, to making sure that child health information systems already in use nationwide can either flow elements of their data to the core clinical record, or that the core clinical record can use a record locator service to discover and present that same data in a summary view.     

“A programme of interoperability will be required to move the current information services away from their reliance on paper data flows and duplication/re-keying of data and subsequently to enable the data to flow to a summary view and between professional health systems,” the draft document says.            

It explains that contents and structuring for a core record are proposed in the Output and Information Requirements Specifications for Child Health Information Services, published by Public Health England in 2015. Standards for interoperability will also need to be agreed upon.                       

“In order to facilitate appropriate access to child health information for all involved in the care of children consent frameworks, role based access and authentication standards will need to be implemented," the strategy says.

"[This is] so that parents and young people and professionals have confidence that data is held securely and shared in alignment with the parent’s/young person’s wishes."

A population management service is also required, which will hold information such as the child's local authority, GP and school.            

“Creating a platform for this service nationally, and integrating it with the Personal Demographic Service and a population management service, creates the central, transferrable record that has been missing,” the draft document says.

Before the strategy is published, NHS England plans to publish; standard operating procedures for population management; an information governance framework for children’s health; a definition of a summary child health view; an interoperability roadmap and standards; message standards and message specifications; and revision of the output based specification for child health information systems.

A national lead for the project will also be appointed. While the ultimate vision for the hub will be delivered by 2020, the strategy says the programme of work should improve child health information services over the next few years.

It says current systems vary greatly in scope and function and the structure of the old operating model is no longer appropriate. “Many of the issues raised by stakeholders reflect the fact that child health information services are organisationally determined rather than child or family-centric,” the strategy says.

“We need to think past and outside of the organisations ‘owning’ and managing systems, to focus on what is needed to create an integrated information service which provides for the safety and wellbeing of children and families whether it be used for personal, professional or public health reasons.”