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NHSX to mandate minimum technology spend for trusts

Recent guidelines for NHSX sets out plans to define spending levels required so organisations can achieve digital aims

NHSX, the digital unit for the National Health Service (NHS), will be defining minimum levels of technology spend for trusts so they can move towards digital transformation in the next four years.

According to the NHS operational planning and contracting guidance for 2020 and 2021, the idea is to get NHSX, alongside NHS England and NHS Improvement, to define clear plans to achieve that goal.

The report said the digital unit will be expected to “set out its approach to mandating technology, security and data standards across the health and care system, which all systems and organisations will be expected to comply with”.

Under the guidance for the next couple of years, which is part of the NHS Long-Term Plan, NHSX will be tasked with defining funding for the digitisation of healthcare providers through a new digital aspirant programme. According to the report, the funding will not be split equally across all organisations.

The digital unit will also be defining responsibility for technology costs, in particular expenses that suppliers will be expected to bear themselves. It will also negotiate licence agreements, which organisations will be able to fund themselves.

“Investment in technology, done in the right way, improves care, increases productivity, reduces the burden on staff and frees up more time to care, helps manage demand by enabling care to take place in the right setting, and improves patient experience,” the document said.

“It therefore makes sense to invest in technology now, to realise the benefits throughout the period of the NHS Long-Term Plan and meet forthcoming standards of interoperability and cyber security,” it added.

The organisations will engage with technology suppliers to determine if there is a minimum and ideal level of tech spend linked to digital maturity standards, according to the report. They will then define what is that optimal level and how to move towards it in te coming years, so that the NHS is fully digitised by 2024.

Building on the intention to move towards greater interoperability across the health system, the organisations will continue to support local systems and specialised services to improve patient experience, the report noted. It added that this “will include a review of the underpinning financial architecture for specialised commissioning”.

Under its attribution to define how technology funding should work, NHSX will also be able to prioritise other programmes that can improve productivity and reduce tasks for frontline staff, such as solutions to reduce time spent logging onto multiple systems.

The priorities will also include putting in place deployment teams to support the implementation of these platforms, according to the document.

Earlier this year, NHS Shared Business Services launched cloud marketplace The Edge4Health, with four major NHS organisations, to transform the way the health service buys products and services.

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