Health professional accessing data on a computer

Health Secretary to investigate consistent NHS data platform

In his keynote speech at the Digital Health REWIRED 2021 virtual festival, Health Secretary Matt Hancock mused on plans around shared data records and the concept of establishing an NHS-wide data platform.

Currently, most health patient data is held by the companies delivering record-keeping solutions to the NHS.

For Mr Hancock, this presented an area with significant potential for change and improvement.

During his keynote speech, the Health Secretary suggested the idea of deconstructing the solution into two separate layers, a data layer and an application layer, and disconnecting these from one another.

He explained: “[Doing so] would allow us to have the data stored separately and securely in the cloud.

“This data is held by the companies delivering the systems. But it is not their data; and the system risks data not being easily accessible for shared. It could hamper the life-saving role of data in patient safety.

“We must make it easier to interact with data from multiple NHS organisations.

“I want us to explore removing this data layer from the application layer. [As a solution] we could look to establish a consistent data platform across the NHS.

“It would be a big change, but this is a year of big changes.”

Mr Hancock’s comments appeared to very much be early thoughts, rather than a concise NHS policy, but reiterated his determination to drive digital transformation in the NHS.

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