Saturday, June 25, 2022

New data strategy aims to close the digital divide between the NHS and social care

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The Health Secretary is vowing to ensure researchers can access patient data “safely and efficiently” as a new strategy aims to bridge “the digital divide” between the NHS and social care.

Sajid Javid is expected to applaud the power of information sharing for the benefit of health and social care, but also promises to “improve trust in data” and make it easier for people to opt out if they wish.

Mr Javid will unveil a new data-in-health strategy at London Tech Week’s HealthTech Summit, which will include commitments to give patients better access to and control over their data.

The strategy aims to have three quarters of the adult population in England registered with the NHS app within the next two years.

The public will also be consulted on a new so-called data pact, which will set out how the healthcare system will use patient data and what the public has a right to expect, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Millions of patients will benefit from faster, more innovative treatment and diagnosis as a result of the strategy, titled Data Saves Lives: Reshaping Health And Social Care With Data, the department added.

Mr Javid will tell those gathered at the summit that the opportunities that lie ahead are “incredible”.

He will say: “We will ensure that researchers and innovators can access data safely and efficiently.

“In this country we have some of the world’s best research institutes and universities, a strong life sciences sector and a thriving health tech industry.

“When that ingenuity meets the insights from health and care data, the possibilities are incredible.”

The strategy sets out how to achieve a “safe and privacy-preserving system” that benefits both patients and professionals, and builds on the lessons learned from the approach to using data during the coronavirus pandemic , the department said.

The strategy’s seven principles include giving health and care professionals access to the information they need to deliver care, improving data for adult social care, and providing data for researchers to develop treatments and diagnoses.

The strategy aims for 75% of the adult population to be registered to use the NHS app by March 2024, with the overall objective of the app becoming a ‘one-stop shop for healthcare needs’.

Mr Javid is vowed to “improve trust in data, which is the currency data-driven technologies need in order to work”.

On opting out, he says that “most people want their data to be used forever, we’re going to make the opt-out system simpler and more transparent.”

The Government has said making better use of data is central to its mission to integrate health and social care and said £25m will be made available in 2022/23 to support investment in and implementation of digital Increase social care technology across England to ensure data can be collected at the point of care and shared between settings.

Less than half (45%) of social service providers use a digital social record, and 23% of nursing home workers do not have consistent internet access at work, according to the DHSC.

The aim of the strategy is for at least 80% of social service providers to have a digitized care file by March 2024.

At the summit, Mr Javid is expected to say: “We need to be open and honest that social care is lagging behind the NHS in terms of digital transformation.

“Our social welfare system is home to some of the most vulnerable in our society, so the opportunities on offer are even greater.

“This strategy demonstrates our determination to close the digital divide that exists between the NHS and social care.”

Professor Sir John Bell, full professor of medicine at Oxford University, said the strategy will “really save many thousands of lives every year”.

He said: “We have shown in Covid that we have some of the best data in the world but that all aspects of care need to be integrated to deliver real benefits to patients and the NHS.

“This data strategy ‘Data Saves Lives’ provides the framework that enables productive use of our data resources and improves all aspects of care. It will truly save many thousands of lives every year.”

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