The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced a £40 million investment into efforts to reduce log-in times for NHS staff.
It has indicated it is preparing to back a series of projects aimed at dealing with what it described as one of the main technology frustrations facing health service employees, saying they might need to log into as many as 15 different systems.
The project will focus on three main areas. Firstly, it will involve working with IT system suppliers to standardise and provide multi-factor log-ins, using features such as fingerprints rather than passwords.
Secondly, it will aim to ensure trusts update their processes to give staff appropriate access permissions for systems they need to treat patients. Thirdly, it will aim to integrate local and national systems.
The DHSC pointed to an existing project at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, which implemented single sign-on technology and reduced time spent logging into multiple computer systems from 1 minute 45 seconds to just 10 seconds. It said that with almost 5,000 log-ins a day, it saved over 130 hours of staff time and freed up their time to focus on patient care.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is frankly ridiculous how much time our doctors and nurses waste logging on to multiple systems.
“As I visit hospitals and GP practices around the country, I’ve lost count of the amount of times staff complain about this. It’s no good in the 21st century having 20th century technology at work.
“This investment is committed to driving forward the most basic frontline technology upgrades, so treatment can be delivered more effectively and we can keep pace with the growing demand on the NHS.”
The DHSC also announced the provision of £4.5 million will be given to local authorities to develop digital adult social care projects, aimed at helping vulnerable people live independently for longer and improving information sharing across the NHS and social care.
It highlighted possibilities including combining artificial intelligence with assistive technology, creating shared records and integrating care home information with hospital IT systems as a patient is admitted to hospital.
Digital aspirant plan
In addition, a new ‘digital aspirant’ programme will be set up. Hancock first referred to this in a speech reported by Digital Health Intelligence late last year, saying it will support NHS providers deliver core digital capabilities but not providing any further detail.
He also highlighted plans for the design of a model of what excellence in care looks like to be made part of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) inspection regime. This will involve trusts being expected to meet minimum technology standards.