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NHS aims to streamline digital standards



Alpha team plans simplification exercise and to publish guide to support design of digital services

A move to provide more consistent standards for digital services in the NHS has been launched by the NHS.UK Alpha team.

It has already run a three month review of the current landscape and is now aiming to publish guidance and simplify existing standards.

The programme is outlined in a blogpost by Simon Dixon, a digital services manager at NHS England, who says the review identified two major problems.

One is that there are multiple standards and guidance from the NHS, central and local government for building digital services to support healthcare. This includes a lot of duplication and some contradictions that make it difficult for teams to know whether they are taking the right approach.

The other is a failure to meet user needs, with many teams not knowing what exists, or that guidance is difficult to find, or that it does not help them. Also, arrangements for testing services against standards are often inconsistent and slow.

Quick response

In response, NHS.Alpha is aiming to take a number of steps in the next few weeks, including the publication of a guide on the web to make it easier to find existing standards.

It is also planning to work with other groups to review and simplify the standards and guidance in place, to share ideas about solutions to common problems – such as with design and service patterns – and to improve the domain name policy to make it easier to understand.

Dixon also identifies five principles for how standards and guidance should work:

  • Standards should make it easier for those delivering services to do the right thing.
  • Standards should be based on delivery.
  • Standards should give people certainty.
  • Guidance on meeting standards should be simple and practical.
  • Assurance and controls should be joined up, proportionate and pain free.

“Our intent though our standards work is to drive up the quality of digital services across health and care to improve the public’s experience,” he says.

This follows the announcement last week that NHS England is to compile a digital maturity index, based on a self-assessment exercise by organisations, as an indicator of readiness to deliver digital services.

In addition, the Department of Health has announced plans for a review into the use of IT in the NHS.





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