The Department of Health has this week published its Information Strategy and the message is clear. It wants to see a change in the way in which not only patients but clinicians, carers and researchers are able to access information and health records. Included in the strategy is a commitment that all GP records will be online by 2015. According to the DoH, there needs to be a cultural shift within the NHS whereby health and social care services make more use of online technologies.
Many portals, led by a national portal, would give patients key information on possible treatments and providers. As well as accessing GP records, people will be able to book and re-arrange their medical appointments online. According to the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, this will ensure that “the NHS will become easier to understand, easier to access and will drive up standards of care.”
Another element will be to integrate health and social care records and once technology allows, the public will be able to access this.
“Our NHS reforms are about making life easier for patients. By allowing people to access the NHS online, we will put an end to the 8am rush to phone your GP to try and book an appointment.”*
The intention here is to take the hassle out of the health service and it seems that digital services are the answer.
It’s great to see digital services being adopted by the NHS. A great example of an existing digital service is the NHS Plus Health for Work Adviceline service, providing occupational health advice to small businesses and other organisations from within the NHS. This provides services across multiple channels (phone, website, smartphone, live chat) as well as providing a private view of records by both ‘patient’ and ‘clinician’.