Mind the gap: more delays for NHS data plans

 

It’s disappointing that the NHS central database has been delayed by six months, but it’s certainly not surprising. It’s a shame as much of the hard work in creating a digital NHS has already been delivered, which is why I hope that the delay is only a temporary measure. It’s easy to forget that our current healthcare system is, historically speaking, still in its infancy. For most our hospitals are seen as the absolute centre of healing and whilst that is vital to maintain, perhaps overall healthcare needs to adopt a more progressive approach and look beyond the operating theatres and patient wards to additional interested and highly capable parties. Crucially, the health service now has the opportunity to drive better patient care and greater efficiencies, through the application of technology and the data insights afforded by it.

Although it’s a non-trivial task to securely and efficiently move to a paperless model and share patient’s data digitally, it’s a step which has already been conquered by many in the health sector and one which is manageable when tackled with the support from decision makers across any health organisation or NHS Trust. We agree that patients need to be informed and given the opportunity to opt out, but technology can enable this process much more easily than before, as part of the NHS digital transformation.

It’s no small undertaking for every NHS Trust and partner in the UK to move to a paperless model to enable this central database, but we would stress that the step is not the impossible task considered only a few years ago. Technology has taken huge leaps forward and has the ability to support a stronger health service in the UK. Ultimately the future of healthcare will require that the right people get to see the patient’s data, with their consent, and provide the appropriate care based on a full understanding of the patient’s history. This in turn can drive real change in how we are able to predict and tackle health problems across the population, particularly around chronic diseases. With this collaboration of data and population buy-in, we will be well poised to drive an efficient and effective health service in the UK and we look forward to the next step in this development, now planned for the Autumn.

Stuart Nyemecz, district manager, regional public sector at EMC

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