New data strategy to be published

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that a new data strategy is to be published.

In an announcement made this week, the proposed strategy will be released ahead of public and stakeholder consultations.

It’s said to propose how patients will view their digital medical records and ensure a focus on empowering them to keep track of their health information.

The strategy includes the use of innovations such as robotic process automation to automate back office tasks, and the use of artificial intelligence tools and how this area will be regulated with unified standards. It’s also believed to indicate how these technologies can be supported into the market to speed-up procurement and adoption.

The data strategy will also feature guidance for frontline staff to share data for patient care and focus on technologies supporting remote monitoring. It will also cover lessons learned from the past 18 months in terms of how health and social care can use data to design and deliver services.

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, commented: “Data saves lives. We need to learn from the pandemic to improve the way our health and care system processes data, giving power to patients and enabling clinicians to use data in new ways to improve patient care and support research for innovative treatments.

“This pandemic has shown us just how many lives can be saved through effective use of data. We must do all we can to harness this potential and the changes brought about through this strategy will no doubt go on to save countless more lives in the future.”

Matthew Gould, Chief Executive of NHSX, added: “Data saves lives, and has saved thousands of lives in the past year. Safe access to a patient’s data allows a doctor to make the right diagnosis and offer patients the right treatment. Safe access to aggregated data-driven research into new treatments like dexamethasone for COVID-19, which has now saved over a million lives.

“The new data strategy will set out our vision to go further, to learn from the pandemic, to save more lives with data, to use technology to ensure patient privacy is even better protected, and to give patients more control of their health records.”

Martin Landray, Professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford and the clinical trials lead at Health Data Research UK, said: “Within 100 days, the RECOVERY trial found that a low-dose steroid treatment called dexamethasone reduced the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. It was the world’s first coronavirus treatment proven to save lives. Estimates are that it may have saved many hundreds of thousands of lives.

“Pre-COVID, it would have taken 100 days to even get permission to go ahead with the trial. We cannot go back. It is a challenge, but one we have to take on, because the future of all of our care depends on robust knowledge on whether treatments work or do not work.”