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Minister outlines priorities for NHSX


Mark Say Managing Editor

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NHSX is set to focus on data access, smartphones and the creation of an ecosystem of new technology, according to one of the Government’s health ministers.

Baroness Blackwood outlined plans for the new policy unit for digitisation in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) at this week’s CogX conference.

She related these to efforts to develop the use of AI and other technology in the NHS, saying that while some developments provide a long term potential, there is a need to make things better for patients and staff as soon as possible.

This feeds into three delivery priorities for NHSX. One is to cut the amount of time clinicians spend inputting and accessing the data in NHS systems.

The second is to make it easier for patients to access key services on their smartphones; and the third is to ensure essential diagnostic information can be accessed safely and reliably from wherever a patient is in the NHS.

A broader priority is to create a data driven ecosystem – taking in fields such as genomic, phenotypic, behavioural and environmental information from a range of sources – to support the move to make healthcare more proactive and focused on wellbeing.

Blackwood (pictured) said that early results from a survey, launched by the DHSC in April, has shown that 58% of those developing AI solutions are doing so with the purpose of improving quality of life and 51% are focused on supporting people with long term conditions.

She added that there has to be a strong focus on the ethical use of data.

“We have a responsibility to capitalise on these opportunities and ensure we do not miss our chance to save lives and money, but we must do this in the right way within a standardised, ethically and socially acceptable framework,” she said.

“The fair and ethical use of health data by researchers and commercial partners can deliver better patient outcomes, improve safety, and contribute to a thriving economy. However, while we promote the latest data driven scientific advances in healthcare, we must always ensure that patient data is respected and properly protected – and the people it is linked to.”

The formation of NHSX was announced in February, with the DHSC saying it would set national policy, standards and a lead in procurement for NHS England in its use of technology.

Its responsibilities include setting standards for the use of technology and data, and ensuring that systems across health and social care can talk to each other.

Image by HM Government, OGL 3

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