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Digital Services update – 26/07/19

Welcome to Ward Hadaway's Digital Services update focussing on digitalisation and information technology developments generally in the NHS and where relevant beyond.

The purpose of this update is to provide you with a brief overview of the recent developments in this digitalisation drive, and we hope help your organisation achieve best practice and avoid the attendant pitfalls.

Expansion of NHS GP digital referral service pilot confirmed

It has been confirmed that two further regions have been added to the NHS GP Digital Minor Illness Referral Service pilot, meaning that Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire will benefit from the new technology.

To date, the pilot  has been positively received with patients reporting high satisfaction rates and reduced waiting times.  Explaining the benefits associated with the service a senior spokesperson for NHS England said: “Using a community pharmacy as the first point of call for clinical advice for minor health concerns will speed up access to excellent care for patients, help to free up GP time and reduce non-emergency visits.”

For more information please click here.

NHS incident reporting to be subject technological overhaul

A new patient safety reporting system under which NHS staff, patients and families are able to report safety concerns instantly via their mobile phones is set to replace the existing “outdated” reporting system.

NHS Improvement has said that it is aiming to use machine learning processes to reveal hidden insights into the reported incidents in addition to highlighting whether any patterns or trends exist.

For more information please click here.

White Paper calls for NHS cyber defence action

A new White Paper has stressed that until defensive steps are taken, the NHS remains vulnerable to cyber-attacks.  In particular, the paper warned that the vulnerability exists as a result of “outdated computer systems, a lack of investment, and a deficit of skills and awareness in cybersecurity”.

Commenting on the paper, a senior spokesperson stressed: “The report highlights weaknesses that compromise patient safety and the integrity of health systems… We are in the midst of a technological revolution that is transforming the way we deliver and receive care.  But as we become increasingly reliant on technology in healthcare, we must address the emerging challenges that arise in parallel.  For the safety of patients, it is critical to ensure that the data, devices and systems that uphold our NHS and therefore our nation’s health are secure.”

For more information please click here.

NHSX to provide advice on sharing patient data

The Department of Health and Social Care has published new guidance explaining that NHSX will become a national centre of expertise providing advice to the NHS on sharing patient data.  The guidance emphasises that an improved use of data between the NHS and partners has the potential to improve diagnosis, treatment, experience of care, efficiency of the system and overall outcomes for the people at the heart of the NHS, public health and wider healthcare system.

For more information please click here.

Alexa to offer NHS health advice

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that the NHS is collaborating with Amazon to provide reliable information from the NHS website through voice-assisted technology.  As a result of the partnership, patients who would struggle to access frontline services will be able to utilise Amazon’s algorithm to provide answers to voice questions including:

  • “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?”
  • “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?”
  • “Alexa, what are the symptoms of chickenpox?”

Emphasising the importance of the partnership, the Chief Executive of NHSX explained:

“The public need to be able to get reliable information about their health easily and in ways they use.  By working closely with Amazon and other tech companies, big and small, we can ensure that millions of users looking for health information every day can get simple, validated advice at the touch of  button or voice command.”

For more information please click here.

Expert Insight

In the first of our Expert Insights analysing the current hot topics prevalent within the health care sector, Melanie Pears examines the implications of the NHS Long Term Plan for digitalisation within the NHS.

“There is no doubt that the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan earlier this year is already having  a significant impact on planning for digitalisation within the NHS. Traditionally healthcare has remained far behind other sectors but it is now beginning to really embrace the possibilities digital health can offer.

The Plan emphasises that healthcare will continue to be ‘radically reshaped by innovation and technology’ as well as explaining that ‘technology is continually opening up new possibilities for prevention, care and treatment.’

Within this context, local systems are developing their digital plans outlining how technology will support delivery of their 5 year transformation plans and ensuring efficiency improvements at the same time as improving quality and outcomes. These strategies will need to include a range of key requirements, including;

  • How they will adopt Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) Blueprints
  • How and when each organisation will achieve a defined minimum level of digital maturity

There will clearly be challenges along the way and one size will not fit all. Tailored approaches and solutions will be required for each STP/ICS as they deal with the challenges including;

  • Patient compliance/acceptance
  • Interoperability
  • Behavioural/cultural change
  • Governance
  • Ensuring patient information is safeguarded securely and used ethically

At Ward Hadaway, we are assisting a wide range of clients from the NHS and the commercial sector.  We also act for innovators and providers of IT based solutions including AI and bespoke software

From cradle to grave, contract procurement to contract management, our team has experience in handling a wide range of matters including scanning solutions and prescription innovations, as well as the development of various other application based developments.”

For further information on any of the topics covered in this update, please get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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