NHS England will have its first HIMSS Stage 7 hospitals by the end of 2018, Will Smart has said, as he laid out his vision to offer ‘comprehensive, longitudinal care records’ for all 55 million English citizens within the next five years.

Speaking at UK eHealth week in London on 16 May, the CIO of NHS England said the Local Health and Care Record Exemplar (LHCRE) programme was ‘right at the heart’ of transformation in Britain’s healthcare industry, adding that the NHS needed to be ‘more ambitious’ in its use of data.

Smart said: “We all know we’ve not yet cracked that ability to share data. That’s got to be at the heart of the next step.”

“We have as yet failed to digitise secondary care to any consistent level across the country. We absolutely need to crack that.

“I am confident that before the end of the year, we will have our first sites that get to HIMSS level 7.”

Successful applicants for the LHCRE programme are due to be announced tomorrow (18 May).

Smart revealed that NHS England had received 10 proposals from 10 communities – though said this only covered around 4% of the country.

He said: “Our challenge is, how do we bring consistency across the nation?

“We do that by making sure data is available, we make sure that data can be used to manage the process of care more effectively.”

To this end, Smart said the NHS aimed to have compiled ‘comprehensive’ electronic health records on every patient in England ‘within the next four years or so’.

These longitudinal records will contain healthcare-related data about every individual, across all settings of care, both health and social, said Smart.

He suggested such a feat ‘should be fairly simple to pull off’.

However, the CIO said that the NHS needed to ‘be more ambitious’, specifically that it should begin using data in order to understand determinates of healthcare and ‘get wider social data to help us understand the context of an individual’s health’.

Smart’s keynote at e-Health Week was markedly more optimistic than that of Matt Swindells, who used his time on the podium on day one to publicly shame trusts deemed to be not reporting frequently enough to NHS England.