News, Secondary Care

NHSX publishes draft Digital Health Technology Standard

NHSX has published a draft Digital Health Technology Standard, and is seeking feedback on the drafted 10 components of the standard.

The draft standard outlines what the NHS expects. It’s based on existing standards and will support a process for reviewing, assessing and evaluating digital health technologies that meet the standard. It is also intended to speed up and streamline how health technologies are reviewed and commissioned by the NHS and social care.

The unit is seeking feedback through a survey before 22nd April.

Dr Indra Joshi, Rhod Joyce and Dr Nina Wilson from NHSX in a blog post said “Over the last year, we have been working with stakeholders, both internally and across the wider ecosystem, to draft a technology standard that clearly outlines what the NHS expects.”

“We have developed the draft Digital Health Technology Standard, based on existing industry and health standards, to bring them together in a consistent, transparent and accessible way. This standard intends to consolidate and replace existing standards, rather than add new ones. This is part of our wider programme of work to speed up how health technologies are reviewed, commissioned and scaled across the NHS and social care, and to provide clearer guidance to support digital health technology developers. ”

The blog said for developers this standard is to enable speedier commissioning of trusted health technologies and will help align procurement frameworks to make it easier for developers to navigate.

For commissions it will speed up procurements and decision making and for clinicians it will provide assurance and demonstrate levels of safety and appropriate value.

The 10 components of the standard include:

  1.   Review the Code of Conduct for Data-Driven Health and Care Technologies and, as appropriate abide by the principles

The Code of Conduct clearly sets out the behaviours we expect from those developing, deploying and using data-driven technologies, to ensure that everyone abides by the ethical principles for data initiatives. This relates to issues such as transparency, accountability, safety, efficacy, explicability, fairness and bias, as well as the potential unintended harm by the increasing use of data-driven technologies.

  1.   Ensure that the product is designed to achieve a clear outcome for users or the system

Developers must understand how their innovation will result in better provision and/or outcomes for people and the health and care system. DHTs must have a clear value proposition with a business case highlighting outputs, outcomes, benefits and performance indicators.

  1.   Ensure that the product is easy to use and accessible to all users

Health and care services are for everyone, including people with different physical, mental health, social, cultural or learning needs. All DHTs should be designed to meet the needs of this diverse set of users.

  1.   Ensure that the product is clinically safe to use

All DHTs must be clinically safe to use and be designed in a way that ensures there is no risk of them causing harm to users, for instance by miscalculating a drug dose or giving incorrect medical advice to a citizen or health care professional.

  1.   Ensure that the product collects, stores and processes users’ information in a safe, fair, ethical and lawful way

Innovators in the digital health field often come from sectors that are not necessarily familiar with medical ethics and research regulation, and who may utilise data sets and processing methods that sit outside existing NHS safeguards. People need to know that their data is being used to improve health and care for them or others and that their privacy and rights are safeguarded.

  1.   Ensure that the product meets industry best practice security standards

A core element of at-scale adoption and uptake is ensuring trust through security and data protection. Security decisions must not be an afterthought, but made throughout the development process in a rational way based on real-world testing. All DHTs must ensure that user data is collected, transmitted and stored safely.

  1.   Ensure that the product meets all regulatory and legal requirements

The regulation of health apps provides patients and healthcare professionals with the assurance that apps are high quality, safe and ethical. DHTs must conform to the latest medical device and health and care service regulations.

  1.   Ensure that the product makes the best possible use of open standards

If a DHT needs to communicate with clinical systems to share data, it must comply with the relevant clinical, professional and technical standards. For example, if it writes clinical information in records held by GPs, or allows users to access their own records.

  1.   Ensure that the product is appropriately tested and is fit for purpose

All DHTs must be suitable for their stated purpose and be confident that they can provide a robust and stable service. They must have been effectively tested for reliability, performance and scalability.

  1. Generate evidence that the product achieves clinical, social, economic or behavioural benefits

All digital health technologies must work and must be clear about their purpose and their benefits to citizens and health and social care professionals. They must be grounded in the best and most up-to-date knowledge, derived from research, clinical experience and citizen preferences; they must also ensure that they monitor their own efficacy so that they can evidence their impact.

Read the full draft Digital Health Technology Standard and take part in the survey here.