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Wi-Fi and wearable tech in new NHS information plan

17/06/15

NHS England unveils plan to allow clinicians to tap into information 'wherever they are'

Plans for an expansion in the MyNHS website, free wi-fi in all NHS buildings and fitting patients with wearables have been floated as part of an increase in the use of digital technology in England’s health service.

Ambulance_voicenetTim Kelsey, NHS national director for patients and information, outlined the plans in advance of taking part in the Kings Find Digital Health Congress, adding detail to the Personalised Health and Care 2020 framework, which was published in November of last year.

They form part of a series of “roadmaps” to be published by the National Information Board over the coming days. These will be subject to discussion before final versions are published in September.

The measures form part of NHS England’s pledge to “harness the power of data and technology” to speed up the delivery of health and social care services and increase transparency.

Plans include:

  • Expanding the ‘MyNHS’ site – which has attracted more than 200,000 users since its September launch – to include information on local NHS commissioners and care homes.
  • Exploring whether it is feasible to turn the entire NHS estate into a free wi-fi zone to reduce the “administrative burden” on doctors, nurses and care staff. That burden is currently estimated to take up to 70% of a junior doctor’s day, so wi-fi would free up much more time to be spent with patients.
  • Giving hospital patients “wearables” – skin sensors or clothes that monitor health signs and upload information directly into patient records. Such technology would help those with long term conditions such as diabetes, more than a fifth of whom experience a “largely avoidable hypoglycemic episode” whilst in hospital.
  • A new online library of approved digital tools, resources and apps to help treat people with diabetes.
  • Integrating the NHS 111 digital service into NHS endorsement of third party healthcare apps and digital service by June 2015.
  • Extending the information in the Summary Care Record to include any details of learning disabilities or dementia.

Wider clinical access

Kelsey also spoke of enabling doctors and nurses to access lifesaving information from anywhere in England for primary, urgent and emergency care by 2018, and for all other NHS services by 2020. Significant progress has already been made in this area, with a third of ambulances now sharing records digitally with A&E doctors.

“The NHS is embracing the offering of digital services to patients, with more than 55 million patients set to benefit from progress,” Kelsey said.

“As well as giving patients more choice and control, better use of technology can save money.”

He claimed there have been successes in other areas, such as 97% of GPs having signed up to

enable patients to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions online – up from just 3% in April 2014.

By 2018, under existing plans, everyone will also be able to view their health history with hospitals, social care and community and mental health services – as well as GPs. 

 
 
 

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