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Civil Service

How developments in technology and data in the NHS are improving outcomes for patients

medical practitioner using laptopWith the launch of the MyNHS tool and new data on the performance of consultant surgeons, the Department of Health (DH) has shown that it remains at the leading edge of the Government’s transparency agenda.

The team at DH, working with key partners including NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and Public Health England, have now published more than 90,000 items of data, including information on hospitals, local authority social care and public health functions, mental health services and individual surgeons. The data covers a wide range of issues: everything from the quality of food in hospitals to individual success rates of surgeons.

This is a fantastic achievement in an area that I’m passionate about. By sharing the data that the government holds, we can improve the efficiency of public services and contribute to the growth of the economy without spending anything extra. And within health, this transparency of data gives patients and their carers more choice about which services they use, and more control over their own wellbeing.

In other parts of our lives we take technology and its benefits for granted.  We are able to book our holidays and manage our finances online. But although 61% of UK adults have a smartphone and 76% of us access the internet every day, only 2% of the population have any kind of digital interaction with the NHS. This needs to change, not only for patient care, but also to improve the efficiency of the NHS, and in order to support the integration with social care services.

It is very important that DH and its partner organisations across health and social care have made further commitments in the area of data and technology, with the publication of Personalised Health and Care 2020.  This sets out a framework for how the health and care sector will use data and technology to transform outcomes for patients and citizens.

Personalised Health and Care 2020 sets a compelling vision for health and care, putting the citizen at the heart of our services.  In just 4 years’ time that ambition is that every citizen will be able securely to access their health records online.  They will be able to see and review their visits to the GP and hospital, their prescriptions, test results, and also their record of any adverse reactions and drug allergies. The framework also sets out how real time data will be available to paramedics, doctors and nurses, ensuring patients receive safe and effective services at the point of care.  The potential in this area is enormous and I look forward to seeing this work progress.  It is clear that effective use of information and technology in our health and care services is not just desirable, but necessary, in order to drive improvements and better outcomes. This is why the digital and open data agendas have become such a central part of the Civil Service modernisation programme – and one of my own top 3 priorities for the year ahead.

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