People across the UK will have better access to their NHS records and receive messages from their GP on their phones as part of the government’s plans to digitize healthcare.
The digital health and social care plan, published on Wednesday, also outlines how patients will be able to manage hospital appointments, book Covid vaccines and hold virtual consultations through the NHS app by March 2023.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said another 500,000 people will use remote monitoring to monitor their conditions from home, which will save hospital beds and time for frontline workers.
Ensuring more customization and better joining of the system will benefit patients, save doctor time, and help us weed out the backlog of Covid
By September 2024, patients will be able to complete pre-assessment exams in the hospital from home.
Health and Social Care Minister Sajid Javid said: “We are in the process of implementing a radical program of modernization that will make sure the NHS is created to meet the challenges of 2048 – not 1948, when it was first established.
“This plan builds on our data strategy to revolutionize digital health and care, which will enable patients to manage hospital appointments from the NHS app and take greater control of their care at home, identify issues sooner and seek help early.
“Ensuring more customization and better integration into the system will benefit patients, save time for doctors, and help us weed out the backlog of Covid.”
The data strategy Mr Javid announced earlier this month set a goal of enrolling three-quarters of England’s adult population into the NHS app over the next two years.
Under the latest plan, care teams will be able to better share information through the adoption of digital health and social care records.
Less than half (45%) of social care providers use a digital social care registry, and 23% of care home employees cannot constantly access the Internet at work, according to the DHSC.
Dr Timothy Ferris, national director of transformation for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said the plan “sets out an ambitious vision for a future where the NHS puts more power and information at the fingertips of patients, and staff have the tools they need to deliver better and more shared services to those who need them”.
A national digital workforce strategy will be developed, and another 10,500 jobs will be created in the data and technology workforce as part of several measures aimed at boosting workers’ skills and making the NHS an attractive place to work for digital professionals.
Dr British Mistry, Digital Fellow at King’s Fund, warned that the biggest risk to the government’s vision is a “lack of capacity among the health and care workforce”.
“The NHS and social care staff are already under severe pressure and many will be wondering where they will find the time to learn new skills to use technologies, change the organizational culture to work better with technical innovators, and avoid the dilemma of implementing new technology without adequately consulting staff and patients.”