Digital health

“Ideally, a decade from now the NHS will be fully integrated, with mental, social and clinical (primary and secondary) care sourced from a unified provider or collaboration of providers via a single point of entry. Patients would be directed towards the relevant portal ( community clinic, accident and emergency) or services provided at home (social or nursing support) employing electronic systems to make appointments, alert providers to their arrival or need, and to transfer records and other material such as images.”

Timothy Evans, Imperial College London

“To make this work, you need to put real power into the hands of the consumer and trust that when you give people power, we will also recognise our responsibilities. Take the issue of electronic records. Whose records are they? The patients? By giving people control of their own health information you will help us take some responsibility for managing our own health and wellbeing.”

Dr Katherine Rake, Healthwatch England

“The NHS should be better for working people. We need more digital or telephone consultations, as well as evening and weekend opening hours and primary care near work.”

NHS@75 website
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Vision for the NHS@75: Delivering the information revolution

  • Population data is used to determine local commissioning decisions and service design.
  • Individual level data is used to drive real-time decision making and predictive health services, supported by the widespread use of consumer technology and mHealth.
  • Patients possess a single, integrated care record – acting as a 360 degree patient profile - available across providers and care settings.
  • Data is used to empower the ‘informed citizen’, who is better placed to make ‘good’ choices about their lifestyle and their care.

Technology plays a key role in a ‘healthy state’ NHS, both for patients and the public, and for the system.  Our vision for the future of digital health centres upon five broad themes:

  • the development of accurate population level data used to inform health and care commissioning decisions for a specific geography;
  • integrated patient and citizen data used to drive real-time (and predictive) decision-making at an individual, patient level by clinicians and care providers;
  • the use of data by patients to enable them to make more informed decisions about their own health and the care that they receive;
  • the effective use of operational performance data to spread best practice between providers, and help deliver value for commissioners; and,
  • the merger of health and other data sets to derive additional value for the NHS and create value networks.

A significant programme will be required to achieve this vision for 2023. Nationally, an information management and technology strategy and operating model is needed.  Alongside this, policies and standards must be agreed, and incentives to deliver on this vision created. 

At a local level, building on activities such as Joint Strategic Needs Assessments, more focused analysis needs to take place to understand the health and care needs of the population within local health economies. Local and ad hoc data sharing and enabling technologies must become formalised and consolidated, driving efficiency. 

By 2023, NHS and local authorities must have increased their levels of collaboration and joint development, driving increasing innovation across the sectors.  Partly driven by demand, but also by necessity, patients will need to make a step-change in their own health and care information ownership, allowing them to drive their own care.