NHS Digital sets up business change team

Initiative to work more closely with local healthcare groups accompanied by plans for new patient services and completion of NHSmail roll out

NHS Digital has set up an Implementation and Business Change team to support the deployment of its initiatives in local healthcare organisations.

The central technology and information organisation for the NHS has said in its annual report for 2016-17 that the team was set up this spring as part of its wider programme to develop new ways of working.

Stephoscope on laptopThe report also points to plans for new online patient services, and highlights the take-up of some of its digital offers already available.

The creation of the Implementation and Business Change team was prompted by the view that there has sometimes been a lack of clarity about the offerings coming from NHS Digital and how services could work together to improve care.

Traditionally it has supported implementation and take-up for individual programmes; but it has now shifted to using joint regional teams with NHS England and NHS Improvement – which supports trusts in creating financially sustainable approaches to care – that work with local groups.

This is aimed at improving understanding, obtaining better feedback and encouraging more innovation.

Other plans indicated in the report include:

  • New services for patients to change or cancel appointments on their smartphones or computers, receive alerts around capacity problems and book follow-up appointments with clinicians. The first of these is expected to go live by October 2018.
  • The completion of the roll out of NHSmail to community pharmacies by the end of 2017-18. The secure email service will also be delivered to care homes, optometrists and dentists.
  • The development of 20 local digital inclusion pathfinder projects under the Widening Digital Participation programme.

Elsewhere in the report, NHS Digital follows up the recent launch of the NHS Apps Library with a forecast that by March 2019 about 10% of the public will be uploading information from wearable and telehealth devices into their health records, and receiving personalised information based on the data.

Programmes' progress

Significant progress has been made with other programmes. The report says that about 95% of GPs are now offering online patient services such as appointment booking, repeat prescription management and summary patient records. It adds that by March of this year 9.6 million people were using such services.

Similarly, the proportion of GPs using the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) rose from 75% to 89% in the year to February, and 99% of pharmacies are now on the system. The number of nominated patients for the EPS increased from 17.2 million to 22.7 million over the year.

Writing in the report’s foreword, chair of NHS Digital Noel Gordon says: “Our job, above all else, is to help our partners use the power of digital technologies to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, reliability and sustainability of all services in a patient-centric NHS and care system.

“This report describes real strides on this journey. We are in the early stages of breakthroughs in the way care is delivered to the public and, in 2017 and 2018, we will see the £4.2 billion investment programme in digital transformation begin to deliver major changes and set the groundwork for further improvement.”

Image by jfcherry, CC BY-SA 2.0 through flickr