Digital Health and Care Plan published with focus on EPRs, remote monitoring, patient access and sharing records

A new Plan for Digital Health and Social Care has been published today, supported by £2 billion allocated from the spending review.

The plan focuses on the expansion of virtual wards and remote technologies, the national electronic patient records programme, developments to the NHS App, and patients’ access to care records, as well as sharing information between care settings.

For the NHS App, the aim is to bring more information into the App, for people to view and manage hospital appointments, have virtual consultations, and see notifications from their GP. The plan sets out an aim by March 2023 for users to view and manage hospital elective care appointments across participating trusts, receive NHS notifications and messaging, including reminders and alerts for COVID-19 vaccine booking and prescription readiness.  Further ambitions for the NHS App include improving access to screening services and enabling reminders, improving access to child health records for parents and carers, and improving access to relevant clinical trials.

The plan also recognises the need to develop a national digital workforce strategy, focusing on digital skills and literacy improvements. In addition, the plan notes the need to develop specialist skills and careers, noting the ambition to create 10,500 positions to grow the data and technical workforce.

Integration of health and social care records is also a focus, with £25 million of funding announced to support sharing between health and care settings and teams.

Dr Timothy Ferris, National Director of Transformation at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “Today’s plan for digital health and care sets out an ambitious vision for a future where the NHS puts more power and information at patients’ fingertips, and staff have the tools they need to deliver better and more joined-up services for those who need them.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid commented: “We are embarking on a radical programme of modernisation that will make sure the NHS is set up to meet the challenges of 2048 – not 1948, when it was first established.

“This plan builds on our data strategy to revolutionise digital health and care, which will enable patients to manage hospital appointments from the NHS App and take more control of their own care at home, picking up problems sooner and seeking help earlier.”