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Digital Health Highlights

NHS IT needs £8 billion - McKinsey
Tom’s digital disruptors: testing times for apps
The long Read

Welcome [*data('2.first_name')|html*] Issue No 709, 13 November 2015 twitter contact



Digital Health News has been arguing for some weeks that if NHS England is going to make the case to Treasury for another big injection of national cash into NHS IT then it should publish the report on which its case is made.

After all, those charged with drawing up plans for healthcare reform, for planning IT investment at a local level, and for buying and implementing systems, should surely know whether the case is sound; and exactly where they should be looking to spend their precious capital if it is.

This week, Digital Health News was able to publish a detailed PowerPoint presentation of the McKinsey report that is clearly influencing the Treasury bid; and a lot of national NHS IT policy.

It shows that the management consultants think the NHS will need to spend as much as £8.3 billion over and above what it already spends on IT over the next five years, to achieve savings of between £5.2 billion and £13.7 billion – or, at the top end, a cool quarter of the NHS’ projected funding gap of £30 billion by 2020-21.

Is the case sound? McKinsey thinks that a good quarter of the investment will need to go into electronic health records and related technologies to, as it does not say, complete the business of the National Programme for IT. Yet, as Digital Health editor Jon Hoeksma notes, hard evidence of hard benefits from this kind of investment is conspicuous by its absence.

Meantime, even McKinsey admits that the case for investing in newer ideas, such as transparency and digital channels for patients, is “untested” at best. That’s not to say investment is not needed. No industry has met the kind of challenges that the NHS faces without using IT to reduce variability and shift work from higher paid to lower paid staff – or users.

And that may be why the commissioning board tends to sound quietly confident of a tech fund three. But using it to deliver that productivity challenge will be a whole new scale of undertaking. Since it’s not one that the NHS can afford to miss, let’s hope lessons are learned from digitisation efforts past, that spending is transparent, and that benefits cases are drawn up for everyone to learn from.



NHS IT needs £8 billion - McKinsey

The NHS needs to spend an additional £7.2 billion to £8.3 billion on digital technology over the next five years in order to achieve savings of between £8.3 billion and £13.7 billion, according to a report by management consultancy firm McKinsey.

22 point plan for NHS digital adoption

A high-level report on NHS IT by management consultants McKinsey makes 22 recommendations to drive the adoption of technology and achieve the anticipated productivity gains; many of which have already become policy.

E-discharge: unmonitored target defended

The October target for all providers to send discharge letters electronically is not being monitored nationally, but has focused attention on the need to make the process paperless, supporters have argued.

E-discharge: Nottinghamshire junks faxes

Some Nottinghamshire GPs have used the October e-discharge target to stop receiving faxes altogether, forcing all providers to adopt electronic processes.

IT system integration - Yorkshire

South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is implementing an integration engine and clinical portal to allow healthcare professionals to see patient information from different clinical systems in one place.

CQC: Harlow trust must improve info

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust must improve the way information flows around its site, according to a report by the Care Quality Commission.

SmartCare delayed until spring 2016

Three southern hospital trusts due to go-live with InterSystems’ electronic patient record this month have delayed their roll-outs until spring 2016.



It was probably only a matter of time, but the first hacking attacks on wearable health devices have been reported. The Register says a researcher has shown that Fitbits can be attacked through their Bluetooth ports within as little as ten seconds, meaning that, in principle at least, malicious code could be inserted for distribution to other devices.

Fitbit, it should be said, has denied that an attack would be possible in practice. But it’s not the first time these devices have been misused. A couple of years back, researchers were able to get into accounts and game the number of steps recorded to earn awards and other prizes – although just tying them to car wheels has been shown to achieve the same thing…


Quote of the week


“When social care is cut, the NHS bleeds.”

Chris Hopson, NHS Providers chief executive, at his organisation’s annual conference. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the same event that the NHS was unlikely to get a significant boost in the spending review, given the “very, very challenging financial situation for the government and the Chancellor.” However, he hinted that social care funding might get an element of ring-fencing.


Intelerad MPU



Can the NHS bank on IT for productivity gains?

NHS England is bidding for billions of IT investment to improve NHS productivity. If it succeeds, a McKinsey presentation obtained by Digital Health News shows that it will be required to deliver on a scale never before achieved, argues editor Jon Hoeksma.

Tom’s digital disruptors: testing times for apps

The NHS Apps Library has closed after concerns were raised about the effectiveness and security of the apps it endorsed. Thomas Meek wonders what this means for a new app endorsement process.

The long Read

Read Codes are to be phased out across the NHS, and SNOMED CT must be used in primary care systems by the end of 2016 and in all IT systems by spring 2020. Thomas Meek reports.


Featured comment


“Who is going to organise the retraining of GPs, practice and other staff, writers of the Business Rules for QOF and all the other areas where Read v2 and / or CTV3 skills are needed? Because if it becomes too difficult, there may be a significant decrease in the amount of coded data being entered in general practice.”

By: Mary Hawking
Story: The long Read


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