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Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have to establish the footprint of their local digital roadmap, as well as submitting governance templates for the project, by the end of October.
By April 2016, CCGs will need to submit roadmaps on how to achieve a paper-free NHS by 2020, as previously reported by Computer Weekly.
Speaking at the NHS Innovation Expo, Beverley Bryant, NHS England’s director of digital technology, said the work will have to begin immediately and CCGs must tell the centre which organisations in their local area they plan to collaborate with to go digital.
“By the end of October, please tell us who’s in your gang and who you are going to write your roadmap with,” Bryant told CCGs.
The footprint for the roadmap will cover a single CCG area or multiple CCG areas, with the decision of whether or not to collaborate being the CCGs’ choice.
“We’ll then map the whole country and see gaps and have discussions on who needs to go where,” said Bryant.
CCGs also have to put in place a clear governance structure to support the development. The guidance on how to create the roadmaps was published on 3 September 2015 and says the roadmap will cover the entire local health and care economy – from secondary care, social care, community, mental health and primary care – to ensure interoperability and access to patients’ records across the service.
“Our ambition is to be interoperable, so information in a hospital needs to digitally transfer across to the community, another hospital, primary care and social care. CCGs are in the best position to have that purview over the health economy,” Bryant said.
The guidance outlines why and how the CCGs have to organise themselves to create the roadmap and then execute it, rather than tell them how to do it.
“Activities may include procuring the necessary software and hardware technologies from the market, ensuring the systems can hold and transfer data to our legally defined standards and effecting the business change and training to embrace and use the technologies and move away from managing clinical workflows with paper and whiteboards,” the guidance said.
The roadmaps will be considered part of the CCG assurance framework from the next financial year, with CCGs held to account for meeting the milestones set out in the roadmap. Bryant added that the roadmaps will be published and available to the public by June 2016.
The government has set out a mandate for the NHS to be paper-free at the point of care by 2020, but exactly what that means has not previously been defined.
“We’ve talked about a paperless NHS, but we’ve never really defined it. We have to be really clear about what we mean by paper-free. It’s about people delivering care without needing to refer to paper. It’s about clinical point of care digital transactions,” Bryant said.
Exactly how this will be funded has yet to be decided. Bryant is currently working on submitting a case to the government for the spending review and, if successful, CCGs will be awarded the funding.
“The detail of future technology funding is expected to emerge in 2016, including the process through which it would be allocated. As a minimum, we would expect any initiatives for which funding is sought to be included on the local digital roadmap,” the guidance said.