CCG News, Secondary Care

NHSX to mandate health tech standards

NHSX has announced it wants to assemble a world-class team of technical experts to help solve some of the biggest technology challenges in health and care. It will soon begin recruiting a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to design and deliver a new Internet-based technical architecture for all of the NHS and social care.  The CTO will also oversee NHSX’s engineering and infrastructure work. NHSX will begin recruiting in the summer.

Digital experts from newly formed NHSX will be embedded in national mental health and cancer teams to help clinicians and policymakers improve patient experience through the power of technology, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced. This includes supporting national teams with in:

  • making it easier for patients to access services through their smartphone to support their health;
  • giving clinicians access to all the relevant diagnostic information about a patient – which is often held across multiple systems – improving patient safety; and
  • making it easier to collect and use health data which can benefit research and, ultimately, patients.

If this model is successful it will be rolled out more widely across the NHS as part of the Long Term Plan.

From July, NHSX will mandate the use of internationally-recognised tech and data standards across the NHS to ensure a consistent language of clinical terms to help staff share information, such as patient records, seamlessly across health and care settings, improving patient safety.

Successful projects and technology developed within the NHS will be required to publish findings to allow evidenced innovations to be adopted elsewhere quickly.

Also suppliers will need to demonstrate they can meet strict criteria before the NHS pays for their services. NHS organisations will be expected to demonstrate they are compliant with standards across their estate.

From July, NHSX will mandate the use of internationally-recognised tech and data standards across the NHS. These include:

  • SNOMED-CT, a consistent language of medical terms that computers can understand. Use of SNOMED is essential for building systems that can talk to each other, a key priority for NHS staff.    It allows for the sharing of vital information consistently within and across health and care settings. It will Reduce the misinterpretation of the patient record in different care settings.
  • ICD-10, a diagnostics standard for the classification of each individual episode of care. This system is designed to map health conditions to corresponding generic categories together with specific variations, assigning for these a designated code. This system is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of statistics.
  • HTML5 and WCAG2.1 AA.  All websites must be built with modern, open standards. It is a legal requirement that they comply with international accessibility standards. It is vital that no-one is excluded from accessing healthcare information. This is part of our legal duties under The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018
  • Every project developed within the NHS to be released as Open Source. This will cut down on duplication within the NHS, improve security, and allow components to be re-used. When procuring solutions, the NHS will be expected to consider Open Source products on a level playing field.
  • Open Standards apply to every aspect of NHS Technology and will improve public services for all users.
  • When embarking on a new digital project, NHS suppliers and commissioning organisations will have to demonstrate to NHSX that they meet these standards in order for the funds to pay that project to be released. This system is already standard practice across most of government.  NHSX will be tasked with ensuring that companies selling into the NHS only have to demonstrate this once, rather than over and over again.

Until NHSX becomes operational in July, current reporting lines will remain in place, with NHSX led in the interim by a senior team from NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care.

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said “We are delighted that the Secretary of State has launched NHSX to align and accelerate the digitisation of the sector. With an open door to the tech industry, the NHS can access the best technology in the world and we hope that the launch of NHSX marks a step change in that direction.”

“In Matthew Gould, NHSX has appointed a Chief Executive with a depth of experience at the intersection of technology and the public sector. In his role at DCMS Matthew has showed that he understands the digital landscape in the UK and the global competition for technology talent and investment. We have worked closely with Matthew to help nurture a digital ecosystem where great ideas can become successful, scalable companies and there is a huge opportunity to do just that in the health sector.”

“We look forward to working with him to propel the UK into a destination of choice for health tech innovation.”