Digital transformation of the NHS

image of tablet, magnifying glass, pad, pen and cogs with graphs and flow charts to show NICE wants more data on histology independent cancer treatments

Paul Midgley, part of Wilmington Healthcare’s Consulting Team, takes a look at NHSX, the NHS’ new joint organisation for digital, data and technology.

NHSX, which is designed to drive digital transformation within NHS health and social care, enabling patients and staff to benefit from the latest digital systems and technology, was officially launched in July.

NHSX, which unites teams from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England (NHSE) and NHS Improvement, will help to deliver key aspects of the NHS Long Term Plan.

These include population health strategies which will necessitate the collection and analysis of in-depth population data, to help the NHS better understand local health and social care needs, and plan and budget accordingly.

Patient data sharing

Sharing NHS patient data with industry to help improve care has been the subject of much controversy in recent years. However, in July, it was announced that NHSX had assumed new controls in this area.

The details were revealed in guidance from DHSC, which said that NHSX would become ‘a national centre for expertise’ to provide advice to the NHS on sharing patient data. The guidance also reiterated the DHSC’s ban on trusts striking their own exclusive deals.

Digital initiatives

Other areas that NHSX will be involved in include supporting the uptake of digital initiatives such as Local Health and Care Records, which will be informed by the work of the five Local Health and Care Record Exemplars that were announced by NHS England last year.

NHSX will support organisations such as the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) and the Academic Health Science Networks on innovation too. Its work in this regard is expected to include the collection and analysis of patient data on the use of innovative new medical technology and drugs.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, has also recently announced a new £250m fund for a National Artificial Intelligence Lab to be led by NHSX and the AAC.

NHSX is also working with NHSE on the procurement of interoperable IT systems, which are essential for delivering integrated care. In August, NHSX and NHSE published a list of accredited suppliers of electronic patient record solutions, designed ‘to give purchasers in the NHS more confidence in their route to digitisation’.

Although NHSX is a new initiative and its work has only just begun, it is already instigating significant changes to help the NHS realise its digital transformation goals, particularly with regards to data.

Important for pharma

From what we have seen so far, it will become increasingly important for pharma to understand data on local population needs and to demonstrate how it can improve outcomes for specific cohorts of patients.

This tailored, data-driven approach will be crucial in supporting the NHS in delivering integrated and proactive healthcare strategies.

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