Data and digital standards forms part of NHSE Integrated Care Systems design framework

NHS England has published a design framework for NHS leaders and organisations, to provide guidance and operational commitments from April 2022 – with a section also dedicated specifically to digital and data.

Published 16 June, the document sets out the next steps for Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to ‘seize opportunities presented by legislative reform’ and create ‘conditions for local partnerships to thrive’.

The document highlights the ambitions, purpose and strategies for ICSs, and the functions to meet population health needs, allocating resources, and ensuring services are aligned to deliver against them. The document covers partnerships, people and culture, as well as topics around governance and management, leadership, working with communities, accountability, financial allocations, funding, and managing the transition.

It also focuses on ‘data and digital standards and requirements’, a section centred around a ‘what does good look like’ framework, which sets out a common vision for ICS leaders.

In the document, NHSE said: “We expect digital and data experts to have a pivotal role in ICSs, supporting transformation and ensuring health and care partners provide a modern operating environment to support their workforce, citizens and populations.”

NHSE sets out a target and expectation that Systems will need to “have smart digital and data foundations in place” by April 2022. The document states: “Systems will locally determine the right way to develop these capabilities and to ensure they are available at system and place level, and across provider collaboratives.”

ICS bodies are expected to renew their data and digital models and plans to achieve the framework set out in the ‘what good looks like’ guide. It sets an expectation that “changes to models of care and service redesign involve digital and data experts working with partners from all relevant sectors.”

The document states Systems must: “Have clear accountability for digital and data, with a named SRO with the appropriate expertise, (registered professional or with equivalent experience), underpinned by governance arrangements that have clear oversight and responsibility for digital and data standards and requirements for the ICS and enabling partner organisation programmes and services.”

It calls for investment in infrastructure, architecture and data models, adopting a cloud-first approach. This includes implementing a share care record across the ICS area, and specifically following standards and processes, and aligning with national guidance.

The guidance also cites the need to roll-out remote monitoring technologies, build platforms to support clinical decisions, and provide analytical resources that can work on cross- system priorities.

To read the guidance in full, please click here.