Matthew Honeyman in conversation with Beverley Bryant

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  • Posted:Monday 25 April 2016

Matthew and Beverley discuss local digital roadmaps, innovation in the NHS and interoperability ahead of the Digital Health and Care Congress at The King's Fund on 5-6 July 2016.


MH: So Beverley, looking forward to your key note at the digital health and care congress in July this year, what are you going to be telling us about then?    
BB: Well we are very close to finalising our plans for delivery of personal health and care 2020 and I’ll definitely be giving you more detail on our plans for Wi-Fi across the NHS estate. There will be some more analysis of the digital maturity assessments and some of the results of where people are across the country.  I'm also looking forward in July to talking about our plans for some of the underpinning technologies to deliver the urgent and emergency care strategy, digitisation of 111 workflows and our changes that we are going to make to the NHS pathway system.

MH: What are NHS England’s big priorities for digital technology in 2016/17?
BB: A few big priorities are achieving open APIs for interoperability, into primary care systems, we are really close to achieving that with the GP system software provider, so that will be really good to have that achieved. Local digital role maps, we are receiving the plans in June, together with the sustainable transformation plans.  So again, that's going to be a lot of work building on the digital maturity assessments.  In early April we will be publishing the results of the digital maturity index that shows where everybody is on the road to paper free and I guess another big push for us in 16/17 is driving uptake of patient online.  We have a commitment to have 10% of patients using the services that GPs have made available and we are also keen to drive uptake of summary care record, you know, as emergency care settings, and we are going to have a big drive on uptake of the new NHS e-referral system.  What we are very, very keen to do right is make sure that there is clinical ownership and board level leadership of the transformation at local level.  We won't tell people what to buy, they need to make sure that the technologies that they use are solving the problems of their clinical staff, their day to day problems.

But of course the role for the centre is to help create standards so that we can have standardisation of information across different care settings and also to provide the national infrastructure like the spine, health an social care network, and also create buying frameworks so that when we make funds available to local organisations, they can get the best possible prices so that they take advantage of the national part of the National Health Service. A recent example of a framework that we set up is through the GPIT Operating Framework where local CCGs are funded for their GPs in their area so local CCGs can take advantage of that national buying framework.

MH: You and your team get out in the system looking at innovations. What are the most interesting things you've seen recently?
BB: For me, the best innovations that we've seen are the ones that are really trying to solve a problem locally, like a clinician or a nurse has with their day to day work, rather than trying to implement a national policy, so a good example is the test bed that I'm the sponsor for which is the diabetes digital coach that's being run by the West of England and again it’s using technology to help improve the lives of the people with diabetes in that area rather than it just being a technology programme. Our code for health platform has been really popular with innovators.  It’s like a sandpit environment that they can come, write codes, try things out, try on other pieces of technology that other clinicians have put there, and I think that's got a really good potential to drive that ownership at clinical level.  And also, I'm really struck by the progress that has been made by the Leeds Care Record for example.  It’s a pretty straightforward ambition to have all the clinicians in Leeds able to view the record on patients they see, but the breadth across all the care settings that they've achieved I think has been pretty good.

MH: So one of the things of our conference this year is interoperability. How will improvements in this area help make local innovation easier and help improve care for patients across England?
BB: The standards area is very immature internationally and in some areas, health economies have spent years trying to get a consensus or a standard, for example the Dictionary of Medicines and Devices, DM & D within pharmacy, has been agreed on but then actually implementing it is proving really, really difficult and it can take years. So we decided to home in on a few core standards for interoperability.  The first one is NHS number.  If we can have every patient marked with their NHS number, it gives us the opportunity to transfer patient information around the system knowing it’s the same person.  The other priority for standards is discharge summaries.  If we can get discharge summaries from secondary care transmitted electronically back into primary care in a fast and easy way, that will make the whole interface between primary and secondary care much more seamless.  I've got one clear goal for interoperability and that is that a clinician or a carer or a patient can access information and be confident that that is accurate, up to date and the latest possible information that is available across different care settings about that patient.  Of course until we've achieved full interoperability of technology, until our secondary care settings have gotten off paper, it’s quite a big goal and so the summary care record and giving clinicians access to that in the short term is a really good way of actually bringing people with us on the journey towards full interoperability.

MH: Thanks very much Beverley, we are really looking forward to hearing more from you in July.
BB: Okay thanks Matt, it’s been really nice talking to you.


Brendan G Brown

Comment date
03 May 2016
Goodness me!

What errant nonsense and flimflam.

Providing wifi by 2020 is hardly ambitious (unless it is 2020 this evening).

Fancy having the thought of using NHS Numbers to uniquely identify patients and thinking of making the 'very latest' patient records available to clinicians.

An "ambition" of a 10% take up of using online GP services is hardly stretching but will probably ensure that the target is met and bonuses cashed in.

Didn't we hear all of this 10 years ago from Connecting for Health and didn't they all say we were paperless by 2016?

OMG ... What rubbish was spouted.

Justin Jewitt

Patient / member of the public,
Comment date
06 May 2016
Interoperability - yes to discharge reports being sent electronically to the GP ( and patient ) as well as every other report. Let's use it now rather than target 2020.
GP websites are very 'clunky' it's awkward to get a password ( come on NHS be immediate in such a service not contact the receptionist !) and appointments are limited by what is put on by the surgery . The use of the web can be so much better than 10% ( witness airline booking with Ryan air and Easy Jet ) if we can get better access and content ....if you build it , they will come !
Keep it going forward Beverley - there are 1billion Facebook users worldwide so you know that most of the U.K. Population ( highly Internet literate) will support your actions in sharing health information across the Internet .

Steve Mott

xHealth Labs
Comment date
08 May 2016
Brendan is right.

Can I refer the NHS to the 2007 report from the UK Clinical Research Collaboration to the then Health Minister. Recommendation 1 'Mandate a common patient identifier'.

Perhaps we should be focusing on getting the underlying systems fully fit for purpose - a strategy for developing EHR systems based on use cases, improving user interfaces, sorting out the clinical coding mess and opening up opportunities for innovators to challenge the dominance of a few vendors.

As far as patient and doctor comfort in using EHRs for research how about clearly differentiating patient identifiable vs. anonymised data?

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