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NHS technology review launched

US professor Robert Wachter’s review of the NHS’s digital future will have a particular focus on clinical engagement in IT implementations

Robert Wachter has launched his review of IT use in the NHS, looking at lessons that can be learned as the health service moves towards “a digital future”.

The review, first announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt last October, will have a particular focus on “issues around successful clinical engagement with implementation”.

The review will inform the English health and care system’s approach to further implementation of IT, particularly the use of electronic health records and other digital systems in the acute sector, with the aim of achieving a paper-free health service by 2020.   

According to its terms of reference, entitled Making IT work: harnessing the power of health IT to improve care in England, the review will look at the experiences of clinicians and senior leaders of health trusts, “as well as the current capacity and capability of trusts’ IT systems”.

Wachter is interim chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, and author of The Digital Doctor, which looks critically at the rise of healthcare IT systems in the US.

The review will draw comparisons with US experience and look at which factors have an impact on successfully adopting and harnessing technology in healthcare.

Hunt said previously that the review will be similar to the Berwick review on clinical safety in the NHS, which was undertaken by Don Berwick in 2013.

The Wachter review, due to be published in June 2016, will set out a series of recommendations “drawing on the key challenges, priorities and opportunities for the health and social care system”.

The review was launched as the Department of Health announced a £4.2bn investment in NHS technology.

Last week, a review by Lord Carter into hospital productivity found that the NHS needs to make better use of existing systems or invest in new ones to improve access and accuracy of data to manage performance across trusts.

The Carter report also called on NHS Improvement to create meaningful use standards for clinical systems and to use incentives to drive better uptake of technology.

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