The Department of Health has reiterated its commitment to get all patient records online by 2015, in its first mandate between the government and the NHS Commissioning Board.
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The document also states that electronic health records must be linked across all healthcare settings, enabled by national information standards to support integration. Additionally, it committed to a 2017 deadline for the implementation of telehealth technology for the three million people with long-term conditions.
The use of technology was outlined as one of four key areas that the board is expected to make progress in by March 2015.
“In a digital age, it is crucial that the NHS not only operates at the limits of medical science, but also at the forefront of new technologies,” said the document.
The mandate follows the Department of Health’s Information Strategy released earlier this year, which committed to a 2015 deadline to allow patient to access their own health records electronically and book appointments with GPs online.
Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt said: “Never in its long history has the NHS faced such rapid change in our healthcare needs, from caring for an older population, to managing the cost of better treatments, to seizing the opportunities of new technology.”
Jon Lindberg, head of healthcare at trade association Intellect, welcomed the document’s technology focus.
“It seems the information strategy is being taken seriously by the top team in the Department of Health, and by the NHS Commissioning Board,” he said.
However, he added that NHS trust’s IT budgets were taking a hit as part of the cost-saving programme.
“Even though a number of analysts predict the spend on IT to go up by 3-5% year-on-year, trusts I have spoken to are not looking to invest enough to make the above objectives.
He said: “Not many places are looking at cross-organisational integrated systems, providing patient access and transactions.”
“We have to do a much better job outlining how local NHS and social care can make inroads to the power of information strategy,” he said.