Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced a new joint unit NHSX, an organisation intended to oversee and help develop IT within the NHS.
The new organisation will set national policy and set best practice for technology across the NHS, including: developing, agreeing and mandating clear standards for the use of technology; data sharing and transparency. A key requirement will be to ensure interoperability across both the health and broader care systems, as well as supporting the use of new technologies by the NHS.
The government recognises that in many areas the NHS relies on systems designed for a pre-internet age with patients not getting the care they need because their data does not follow them around the system. Change has been slow because responsibility for digital, data and tech has been split across multiple agencies, teams and organisations. The idea is that NHSX will change this by bringing together all the levers of policy, implementation and change for the first time to deliver on the Health Secretary’s Tech Vision₁ and Long Term Plan₂ for the NHS
NHSX will work with the NHS and the wider digital economy to build world-class digital services. These will improve care for patients and enable medical research. The CEO of NHSX, yet to be appointed, will have strategic responsibility for setting the national direction on technology across organisations.
Hancock said “Modern technology has an incredible potential to change people’s lives for the better and revolutionise the care they receive.
Because I care about patients getting the best treatment, I care about the NHS getting the best technology. But everyone knows how hard it’s been to get the NHS to adopt the best in digital. We’ve set out a clear tech vision for the NHS, which underpins our NHS Long Term Plan. Now we’re bringing together the tech leadership into NHSX, which will be responsible for harnessing the true potential of technology to transform care, save lives, free up clinicians’ time and empower patients to take greater control of their own health.
NHSX will combine some of the best minds from among the NHS, leading innovators, and government into one unit to set national policy, remove red tape and create a culture of innovation to allow the best innovations to flourish.
This is just the beginning of the tech revolution, building on our Long Term Plan to create a predictive, preventative and unrivalled NHS.”
However, the initiative hasn’t been greeted with universal support. A digital Health magazine survey revealed that more than two thirds (67%) of people who voted on-line thought there NHSX would not be up for the job citing that too many organisations already exist.
NHSX’s responsibilities will include:
- setting national policy and developing best practice for NHS technology, digital and data – including data-sharing and transparency
- setting standards – developing, agreeing and mandating clear standards for the use of technology in the NHS
- ensuring that NHS systems can talk to each other across the health and care system
- supporting the use of new technologies by the NHS, both by working with industry and via its own prototyping and development capability
- ensuring that common technologies and services, including the NHS App, are designed so that trusts and surgeries don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time
- making sure that all source code is open by default so that anyone who wants to write code for the NHS can see what we need
- reforming procurement – helping the NHS buy the right technology through the application of technology standards, streamlined spend controls and new procurement frameworks that support our standards
- setting national strategy and mandating cyber security standards, so that NHS and social care systems have security designed in from the start
- delivering an efficient process for technology spend, domain name management and website security
The health sector remains a great opportunity for the channel and NHSX is an initiative that is technology focused.