Monday, 26 September 2016

King’s Fund Calls for Credible Digital Health Plan with Appropriate Levels of Funding

Government ministers and NHS leaders should set out a definitive plan for expanding the use of digital technology in the health service, according to a new briefing published by The King’s Fund.

The briefing highlights the risk of losing credibility and commitment among frontline NHS staff if the digital health agenda continues to be subject to shifting priorities, new initiatives and slipping timescales. It calls for urgent clarification of when funding already announced will be made available, warning that holding back investment until later in the parliament will inevitably slow down progress.

The briefing assesses progress made against key commitments including:
  • The implementation of electronic patient record.
  • Increasing the number of accredited health apps.
  • Rolling out online appointment booking and repeat prescription services.
It concludes that digital technology has the potential to deliver significant benefits to patients and health professionals but that progress in implementing it is patchy.

The report goes on to criticise the level of funding available to support digital and technology projects in the NHS over the course of this parliament. Supporting the conclusion of the recent national review led by Professor Robert Wachter, that additional funding will be needed to achieve the government’s goals, as well as his call for a more realistic timetable for implementing the NHS digital agenda in acute hospitals, where most progress needs to be made.

Matthew Honeyman, policy researcher at The King’s Fund, said “Ministers and NHS leaders must articulate a clear and compelling vision which conveys the benefits of digitisation to the clinical staff who will be central to implementing it and provide certainty about the funds available to support it.”

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