New NHS strategy to give patients more control over their health and care data

·3-min read

An NHS strategy allowing patients greater control over their health and care data is due to be introduced under new proposals, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

People will be able to access their own medical information, including medication lists, procedures and care plans from different parts of the health system through various patient apps.

Patients will also be able to manage appointments, refill medications and speak with health and care staff when needed.

The DHSC says the strategy , published by NHSX, will break down data barriers and give people confidence that health and care staff have up-to-date medical information, regardless of the care setting, enabling clinicians to make quicker, more informed decisions to deliver better treatment.

It added that improving data collection and how NHS systems work together meant staff would spend less time looking for information and more time caring for patients.

Charles visit to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
Health Secretary Matt Hancock (Steve Reigate/Daily Express)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, said: “Data saves lives. More effective use of data will deliver better patient focused care.

“It will free up staff time to focus on patients and allow clinicians to make better, more informed decisions on treatment and support.

“The pandemic has taught us we must be bold and the great strides we have made on vaccines and treatments during this time have been made possible by the way we use data.

“This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position.”

Matthew Gould, NHSX chief executive, said: “Throughout the pandemic we saw examples of data improving care and saving lives – from the speed of vaccine development to the discovery of treatments for Covid-19.

“If we want to continue improving care, we need to transform how we use data.

“Patients need to own their data, have access to their data, and have confidence on how the NHS is handling it on their behalf.

“This strategy takes this agenda firmly forward, and is good news for patients, staff, citizens and anyone who cares about the future of the NHS.”

The strategy proposes a new duty to share anonymous data safely and appropriately across the entire health system.

New legislation is due to be introduced to require all adult social care providers to provide information about all the services they fund to ensure service users have the best care and experience.

The DHSC said the proposals would ensure staff have the information they need as soon as they need it, helping to provide the best possible care to the elderly and vulnerable.

It added that better use of personal data would help analyse key trends in the health of the nation and improve the commissioning and planning of services for local communities.

Such improvements would allow better preparation to identify, prepare for and respond to future diseases.

Minister for Innovation, Lord Bethell said: “The safety of the public will only be improved if the health and care system makes better use of data.

“We have already seen how analysing patient data on maternity outcomes has improved care for mothers and babies.

“Greater sharing of patient information across the health and care system will undoubtedly go on to drive further improvements in patient safety, ultimately saving lives.”

NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis, said: “For more than a year, NHS staff have been at the forefront of innovations, based on research and development with patients, to help the country deal with the biggest threat in a century,

“This latest initiative will ensure that many more life-saving treatments can be developed for patients by the NHS thanks to better access to data.”

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