Matthew Gould has been named as the chief executive officer of NHSX, the new policy unit for digital healthcare in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
An announcement from the department has also said that digital experts will be included in national policy teams for cancer and mental health, with a view to extending the move to other areas of care.
Gould is set to join NHSX during the summer from his current role as director general for digital and media at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He was previously director for cyber security at the Cabinet Office and has been a UK ambassador to Israel.
He will have strategic responsibility for setting the national direction on technology across health and social care, and will be accountable to the health and social care secretary and the chief executive of NHS England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the creation of NHSX in February, saying it will involve experts in technology, digital, data and cyber security working with NHS organisations and the digital economy to support the development of new services.
Gould (pictured) commented: “I will know I have succeeded if in two years we have reduced the crazy amount of time that clinicians spend inputting and accessing patient information, if we have given patients the tools so they can access information and services directly from their phones, and if we have started to build a system in which patient information can be securely accessed from wherever it is needed, ensuring safer and better care as patients move around the system, and saving patients from having to tell every doctor and nurse their story over and over again.”
The priorities for the digital experts joining care policy teams will include supporting efforts to give clinicians access to diagnostic information about patients, and making it easier to collect and use health data to support care and for research
They will also be focused on making it easier for patients to access services through smartphones.
Gould's appointment won the support of IT industry association techUK, whose chief executive Julian David commented: “In Matthew Gould, NHSX has appointed a chief executive with a depth of experience at the intersection of technology and the public sector.
“In his role at DCMS Matthew has showed that he understands the digital landscape in the UK and the global competition for technology talent and investment. We have worked closely with Matthew to help nurture a digital ecosystem where great ideas can become successful, scalable companies and there is a huge opportunity to do just that in the health sector.”
It drew a more cautious response, however, from the NHS Confederation. Its chief executive Niall Dickson said:
“The ambition that new NHS technology will make sure that different systems can talk to each other has to be the right one. The support for the national cancer and mental health teams is also really welcome.
“But creating yet another arms-length body at the centre, however innovative, will not in itself drive the technological revolution we all want to see. And the question must be asked why is NHS Digital not taking this forward?
“More importantly, if NHSX is to succeed it needs to draw on the expertise within the service and harness the fantastic work already underway as well as showing what is possible.
“It is vital that we strike the right balance between support and control. The lessons from the past suggest that fewer diktats and more collaboration from the centre will bring about more effective change more quickly.
The DHSC said that from July NHSX will begin to mandate the use of specific technology and data standards across the NHS with an emphasis on interoperability.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0
Dickson quote added on 5 April