BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, through its BCS Health specialist group, has submitted a response to the Department of Health’s consultation on ‘Liberating the NHS, An Information Revolution’.
Dr Justin Whatling, Vice Chair for Strategy and Policy in BCS Health, who has led the response, explains: “This has been one of the largest engagement exercises that the Institute has ever done. We have undertaken a widespread internal consultation involving many hundreds of our members, either in person or online. We have also provided the environment and opportunity to convene the wider informatics community to openly debate the Information Revolution proposals in order to encourage their own responses.”
Justin continues: “Our members were keen to bring their expertise to bear on a holistic approach to the challenges that face informatics in the health industry. We have, therefore, written a comprehensive response in nine chapters that we believe provides detailed, progressive and pragmatic guidance to the NHS as it now puts in place its information strategy.”
The Institute will publish its full report, which consists of almost 100 recommendations, later this month addressing top line themes that BCS has identified:
• The implementation of information services and IT needs to be viewed as a necessary supporting infrastructure to the redesign of service, not as an end in itself.
• The NHS and the informatics community needs to win back public and care professional trust through better explanation of the benefits of the information revolution and more care in ensuring that the individual patient is engaged and activated in their health and wellbeing.
• The rigorous enforcement of standards is not an example of heavy-handed government interference, but a necessary condition to allow a flourishing market of interoperable solutions.
• The NHS needs to build on the infrastructure of the National Programme for IT, but take rapid steps to reintroduce competition into the NHS supplier market.
The Institute’s response includes the following recommendations:
• We recommend that, where sharing is appropriate, there should be a statutory obligation on health care providers to release information as a minimum standard if contracting with the NHS.
• To mitigate the risk that, in the early stages of data release, organizations, clinical teams and individuals will be unfairly judged by inappropriate interpretation of data that is not fully explained, we recommend that ministers, the Department of Health and commissioners will need to take a mature attitude in responding to data release and be at the forefront of explaining to the public and the media why over-reaction is inappropriate, though this will not be easy.
• We recommend a single overarching approvals and/or assurance body for informatics standards, directed by the Secretary of State for Health, covering health, social care and population health. The role should include rapidly setting standards with roadmap for information management that are stable, enabling ICT suppliers to rapidly innovate solutions for health and care.
• We recommend that existing NHS procurement frameworks such as ASCC are enhanced so that new vendors can be added to the framework if they demonstrate a product meets the national minimum requirements for information governance, functionality, data standards and interoperability, or removed if they are subsequently seen to fall below those standards.
• We recommend that the information strategy states that all organizations providing care to the NHS should be given notice that they will be expected to be using an electronic patient record (EPR) in a meaningful way within five years. Following review of the US criteria for meaningful use, the NHS should create a set that is appropriate to the UK.