Lead official outlines transformation project that includes investigation of potential of ‘health as a platform’
A Department of Health (DoH) team has begun to test and prototype approaches to supporting digital healthcare as part of its recently launched NHS.UK Alpha project.
It includes work on the possibility of extending the ‘government as a platform’ approach into healthcare through the development of ‘health as a platform’ in the creation of new digital services.
The team, which is working under the National Information Board, includes members from healthcare website NHS Choices and the Government Digital Service.
Dan Sheldon, Digital Strategy Lead at the DoH, says in an NHS.UK Alpha blogpost that it is “setting a vision for NHS.UK”, and dealing with two major challenges: supporting digital transformation in the large, federated environment of the health service; and helping the public to navigate the system.
It is looking at the way that information is published by health and care organisations on the nhs.uk and gov.uk domains, and at the processes involved for the public in obtaining care.
Sheldon says one of its approaches is to look at health as a platform as a way of fixing common problems such as establishing patient identities and booking appointments once, rather than expecting each service to develop its own solutions.
“Over the past few weeks we have been exploring and prototyping opportunities to make things better across all three – information, services and platforms,” he says, adding that the team will provide updates on progress.
Another priority is to meet the needs of people with particular health conditions, although Sheldon says there should not be an over-emphasis on specific conditions as this could undermine the effort to look at the total care of an individual.
The team is also looking at the protection of personal data, how to get different systems to speak the same language, and the impact of online referrals and appointments on NHS working practices.
The project, which began earlier this month, is running for 12 weeks and is aimed at producing plans for the further development of the prototypes to emerge, and standards and guidance for NHS teams building digital services.
Image by Daniel Sone (photographer), public domain via Wikimedia Commons