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Hunt to launch digitised records and data breach inspections in new transparency bid

Every NHS doctor, nurse and patient will be able to access entire medical records by 2018 in order to book appointments, order prescriptions, modify information and update activity levels, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed.

Hunt reiterated that goal – seen by some as unrealistic – during today’s Health & Care Expo in Manchester, adding that smartphone users will now be able to be “electronically connected” with their own care.

He said: “Powerful patients need to know about the quality of healthcare being provided, but they also need to be able to harness the many innovations now becoming possible. To most of us it feels like there has been more change in the way we book taxis, shop, bank or store photos than the way we access healthcare. Yet for every single one of us, healthcare is more important than all of those things.

“Experience from other countries suggests that opening up access to your own medical record leads to a profound change in culture in a way that is transformative for people with complex or long term conditions.

“I also want patients not just to be able to read their medical record on their smartphone but to add to it, whether by recording their own comments or by plugging in their wearable devices to it.”

The potential benefits of digitised medical records include patients being able to notify their healthcare professional about how much exercise they undertake daily. This information could then be used by clinicians to inform their tailored treatment of each specific patient.

These changes will feed into Hunt’s first of three ambitions for the future of the NHS, ultimately outlining the importance of using the “power of data to create a culture of intelligent transparency”.

Alongside that were the ambitions to make the state service the “world’s largest learning organisation” and put all information in the hands of its patients.

Hunt added that figures showed only 2% of people interact digitally with the NHS as it is, despite 89% of the UK population using the internet and 59% owning a smartphone.

He noted: “As the internet drives forward the next wave of innovation, all over the world healthcare still seems to be at the back of the queue.

“We will only really be putting patients first if we can give them confidence that every part of the system knows their care plan, is up to date with their progress and doesn’t need them to repeat their story time after time.

“We no longer have to carry round our cheque books or boarding passes, and we shouldn’t accept any less when it comes to our health.”

Furthermore, he declared that the UK will become “the first country” in the world to publish performance information of every CCG on an annual basis from March onwards.

This measure, linked to Hunt’s drive to make the NHS more “transparent”, will strive to re-establish public confidence in the service.

“Exciting though this all is, we will throw away these opportunities if the public do not believe they can trust us to look after their personal medical data securely.

“The NHS has not yet won the public’s trust in an area that is vital for the future of patient care. Nothing matters more to us than our health, and people rightly say we must be able to assure the security of confidential medical information.”

Part of this determination to increase public confidence will include extending confidentiality to all CQC inspections, which will now begin reviewing the standards of data security for patients’ records across the NHS.

The “independent oversight” provided by national data guardian for health and care, Dame Fiona Caldicott, will also be strengthened by being put on a statutory footing.

She will therefore contribute to data reviews by developing guidelines for data protection for which every health provider will be held to account, as well as provide advice on a new model of consents and opt-outs to be used by the care data programme.

Work will be completed by January 2016 and, from next year, the new guidelines will be implemented in all CQC inspections and NHS England commissioning processes.

Hunt’s vision for a more digitised and patient-centric NHS was resounding throughout most of the Health and Care Expo sessions, with several speakers emphasising the importance of focusing on self-care, patient-led services and prevention to safeguard the future of the NHS.


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editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital exemplars who were revealed at the same show 12 months earlier.  Jeremy Hunt also stated that by the end of 2018 – the 70th birthday... read more >