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'This is information overload'

Read all the reaction around the report from NHS England, the Department of Health and the CQC among others on how they hope to achieve a paperless NHS by 2020

Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association

We’re getting to the point where IT gives us an information overload. You get so much information, about such trivia that you get a signal to noise problem, and you don’t always hear the things you really need to hear, because there’s so much else going on.

I’m absolutely in favour of patients telling me what they feel, and what they think is wrong with them. But that’s what I do, I spend most of my life actually trying to interpret what people are telling me, I see my job as a GP very much as an interpreter.

I’m delighted when patients tell me what they think is wrong, because it gives me a chance to know what their worries and fears are. We can start a sensible conversation based on that, and hopefully come to a point where I’ve said “that fear is groundless” or “yes, we’ll take that very seriously and look into it further.”

Now that’s useful conversation, but whether we need to get a computer in the way of it, I don’t’ know. I’m just a little nervous that we believe that if it’s electronic it’s good.

Jeremy Hunt, health secretary

I want the NHS to be a world class showcase of what innovation can achieve. Today’s plan sets out how we can give patients 21st century, personalised healthcare.

Tim Kelsey, NHS England national informatics director

New mothers will now be able to carry their red book around with them on their smart phone and tablet as the NHS moves towards offering digital Personal Child Health Records.  This will put an end to worrying about leaving your child’s information at home when going for a review, vaccination, or emergency treatment.

We must embrace modern technology to help us lead healthier lives, and if we want - to take more control when are ill.

Our ambition is to make the NHS a digital pioneer for our patients and citizens.

The framework will set out how real time data will be available to paramedics, doctors and nurses, ensuring patients receive safe and effective at the point of care. All NHS funded care services are expected to have digital and interoperable systems that remove the limitations of paper records and slow bureaucratic systems by 2020. 

Andy Williams, chief executive of the Health and Social Care Information Centre

The HSCIC has a key role in supporting local innovation and providing national applications to help information sharing.  Ensuring all parts of health and care follow the same standards so that their information systems can talk to each other is crucial, if we are to take advantage of the latest digital technology.  Equally required is public trust in our custodianship of national data and the controls we have put in place.  Trust depends on openness and responsiveness and the HSCIC remains fully committed to building this into all digital development.

The plans also include:

·         NHS ‘Kitemarks’ for trusted smartphone apps which will help patients access services and take more control of their health and wellbeing in 2015

·         Patients to be able to access their own GP record from spring2015, and will have full access to care records by 2017.  Patients will be able to record their own comments.

·         Patients will only have to tell their story once. With consent, care records will be available electronically across the health system by 2018 for urgent care services and 2020 for all services – dramatically improving coordination of care, particularly for those with complex conditions.

·         Introducing a digital ‘red book’– helping parents to manage their child’s early health records - in 2016

·         Ensuring the NHS remains a leader in the global race to fight disease and as a hub for genomics research. Developing innovative personalised medicines will mean the right treatment, first time.

Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer of Public Health England

Digital technology and innovation has the potential to not only revolutionise the NHS and but also how individual’s approach and manage their own health and wellbeing.  In addition, Public Health England will be contributing its expertise to achieving this transformation.

David Behan, chief executive of the CQC

Using information from the public and from other organisations is a crucial part of how we check the care that people receive – it helps us to make decisions about where and when we inspect. This plan outlines improvements to the way the health and social care system uses data and is a real opportunity to make the NHS and wider health and social care system fit for the modern digital age.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Mark Smith

    Stuff the apps. It would be nice to concentrate on sorting out the basics such as to get discharge letters on time ie less than a fortnight. It would be nice to get them electronic straight into our system, have been waiting for our hospitals to catch us up for 5 years and no sign of it improving. It would be nice to get all new patients on GP2GP including notes over 5Mb but we have passed that deadline by 4 months now. It would be nice to get letters from clinic, Xray results etc all before the patient makes an appointment. Dream on

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  • "NHS ‘Kitemarks’ for trusted smartphone apps" - I wonder how much it will cost to get one of these? This scheme should certainly help to stifle over-innovation in the private sector and return entrepreneurs to the normal molasses pace of the rest of the NHS.

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  • "Patients will only have to tell their story once" - Nice idea but, let's be honest, but wholly unrealistic.

    Patients frequently tell their store at their own GP surgery because they tend to see "whoever is available" and yet their is rarely a single entry in their notes that summarises the "story" (writing as a locum GP here) so it seems peculiar to think that wider access the GP record will magically enable this - without someone carefully entering the "story" in the first place - which won't happen because we all do it as quickly and concisely as we can before the next 10 minutes slot. And even when we summarise a patient's story in an old fashioned thing called a "referral letter", the receiving party still insists on taking the history again! - but then "never trust your colleagues" was a piece of sensible wisdom imparted to me by a no-doubt previously caught-out consultant.

    We all know that the only way to save patients from fruitlessly repeating their stores over and over again is to restore genuine relationship continuity, something which no electronic record can achieve. That said, wider access to a live medication history will be very helpful as patients tend to be pretty useless at remembering this themselves.

    More data sharing - yes great, but let's focus on realistic objectives please.

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