National healthcare information board sets out programme of work

The annual report of the government’s digital health body the National Information Board has set out 33 programmes of work to help digitise the NHS, stressing that public trust is crucial for success.

NIB annual report looks at access to NHS-approved apps – Photo credit: Fotolia

The NIB, set up in 2014, is a collaborative partnership of representatives from 29 organisations and aims to monitor the “big picture” of information and technology across the NHS.

Following the government’s 2015 spending review commitment to putting £4.2bn into digitising the health service, the NIB has now chosen 33 programmes to focus on.

These are grouped into 10 delivery domains, which the report said were decided on at a series of workshops in early 2016, and will be monitored by the NIB.

These are: self-care and prevention; urgent and emergency care; transforming general practice; integrated care; digital medicines; paper-free at the point of care; data outcomes for research and oversight; elective care; public trust and security; infrastructure.

The work programmes include efforts to increase healthcare professionals’ access to data, to improve health infrastructure and increase patient access to health and care information.

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In addition, the report highlights four “key areas” of focus for the NIB, including learning from local experience, horizon-scanning and engaging with patients and citizens to improve trust in the use of digital services.

Patient trust has been an area of much discussion over the summer, following the cancellation of the patient data sharing scheme and the launch of a consultation on a new set of patient opt-outs recommended by data guardian Fiona Caldicott.

The annual report said the Caldicott review was a crucial part of this work, and added that public trust was “fundamental to the success of all other domains of the NIB’s work”.

The report said that an NIB management board was assigning formal governance of each of the 10 domains, along with a senior responsible officer and key performance indicators.

In the foreword to the report, the interim chair of the NIB John Newton said that the launch of these programmes was “just the beginning”.

Newton, who will be stepping down as chair to allow Keith McNeil – the newly-appointed national chief clinical information officer – to take over, said that the board would monitor and oversee the work to ensure it delivered the outcomes set out in the 2014 health strategy Personalised Health and Care 2020.

The report is published just days after major announcements about digital healthcare were made by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt, to coincide with the publication of a review into NHS IT systems.

Cyber security training for staff

Meanwhile, NHS Digital has announced that it is to start expanding the NHS’ cyber security service.

The Care Computer Emergency Response Team, or CareCERT, is a national service that provides advice and guidance about digital and cyber threats to health and care organisations.

Speaking at the Health and Care Expo yesterday, health innovation minister Nicola Blackwood said that three new services were to be rolled out, with testing due to begin this autumn.

These are: an e-learning portal for staff training, called CareCERT Knowledge; guidance on ways organisations can reduce the impact of a data security incident, called CareCERT React; and a service to compare organisations’ cyber security measures against industry standards, called CareCERT Assure.

Blackwood said that, although cyber attacks on the NHS are often not seeking health data specifically, it must be protected “with the highest possible standards”.

Blackwood said that CareCERT would support more than 1.3 million staff across the NHS and urged all health and care organisations to sign up to the service.


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