Javid outlines government health and care data strategy

Charles Wheeldon
June 17, 2022
Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid spoke at London Tech Week’s HealthTech Summit to launch the new data in health strategy ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data’.

Javid repeated his earlier comments about Blockbuster disappearing from view because it failed to embrace change, while Netflix, adapted for success, adding that if health and care doesn’t keep up rapid change then it will fail to deliver.

He reminded his audience that he merged NHSX and NHSD into NHS England, convening all the NHS’s digital bodies under one roof because digital isn’t an add-on and must be owned and driven from the top.

Javid said already given the NHS a new target of to ensure 90% coverage of electronic patient records by the end of next year, and was determined to ensure this percentage of NHS app users reaches 75% of all adults in England.

Last week Javid accepted the recommendations of the independent Health and Care Leadership Review, and he said he will soon publish the Digital Health and Care Plan, which will put in a single place the government’s overall vision for digital transformation.

Javid moved on to talk about his new data strategy, with the strapline ‘data saves lives’, emphasising that the industry must be a trusted custodian of data.

He moved on to the necessity of giving give health and care professionals the information they need to provide the best possible care, saying he would address the concerns of the 27% of doctors who responded to a BMA survey saying that lost over four hours a week because of inefficient hardware or systems.

This requires shared records so clinicians can make decisions based on all the relevant information, whichever part of the system they come from, and add to the same shared record in a safe and straightforward, Javid said basic shared records are now in place in all Integrated Care Systems.

Addressing the concerns of staff who are hesitant when it comes to using data, worried they might get some things wrong, he advocated clear and as simple guidance for staff on how they can use data.

Javid added that he wants an approach where safe access to data is the default, because the opportunities that this data can unlock are too important to be left to chance. So, he will introduce a new legal power that means health and care organisations can require anonymous information from each other and from commissioned private providers, to help smash silos, and make sure that anonymous information can be shared more easily across the system.

The government will place a particular focus on promoting data-driven technologies in adult social care too, Javid said, adding that social care lags behind the NHS when it comes to digital transformation, with only 45% of social care providers using a digital social care record.

Javid repeated his commitment to investing at least £150 million to support digital transformation in adult social care, saying the Data Strategy builds on the investment, showing how the government will develop a comprehensive digital training offer for workers in the sector, and close the gaps in data sharing between health and social care, so that it’s only collected once and then flows right across the system.

He urged use of the NHS number universally across adult social care, and set a March 2024 target for at least 80% of all CQC-registered social care providers to have a digitalised care record, which will be integrated with the wider shared care record, backing that up by announcing another £25 million of funding this year across all Integrated Care Systems in England.

Javid also pledged to deliver to local and national decision-makers better and more sophisticated data to help them to plan services, citing platforms like the coronavirus dashboard, which brought together data sources from across government “in a clear and accessible way”.

Finally, Javid pledged to ensure the UK is seen as the best-possible place for innovators to make breakthroughs, becoming the natural home for tech talent from across the world. “As we chart a new course after leaving the EU, I am determined to pursue every single opportunity to give ourselves a competitive advantage, and that includes our approach to data,” he said.

“These are just a few of the commitments in this radical agenda for change. We are at a unique moment in history as we emerge from a crisis that has brought incredible hardship but also phenomenal change. This important document, the new Data Strategy, it shows how we will keep accelerating and innovating, and working with tech innovators like you, to transform health and care for the better. Because quite simply, data saves lives.”

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