Minister claims government hopes to ensure ‘support from day one’
The NHS App will soon help users connect to mental-health services as part of a wider expansion of digital tools.
Features focused on mental health – as well as those dedicated to musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions – will be offered via the app “later this year”, according to Lord Markham, a minister at the Department of Health Social Care with oversight of NHS IT and data.
This additional functionality will provide patients with “24/7 access to suit lifestyle factors without the need for a clinician referral” and will complement other initiatives to open up access to specialist care services via digital platforms, he added.
“This is a significant change, moving from these technologies only being available in some areas of the country, and for those who have been referred into a clinical pathway,” the minister said, in a speech given at London Tech Week. “This demonstrates our commitment to scaling well evidenced technologies and breaking down commissioning barriers.
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“And these two areas are only the start; we’ll pilot new, novel mental health technology that has potential to transform our model of care, enabling our citizens to have access years earlier to the most promising technologies. We’ll also be levelling up the use of digital tools within our existing NHS Mental Health Talking Therapies services so that people have support from day one whilst waiting for their appointment.”
Elsewhere in his presentation, the minister claimed that “digital design is at the heart of our approach to standardisation” in government’s work to build new hospitals.
Markham added that government has already made significant inroads in delivering the aims set out last year in the Data Saves Lives strategy, the aim of which is to enable the use of information to support the provision of care.
“This document provided the ambitious direction, and good progress has been made on implementing it,” he said. “Over half of the commitments we promised are now delivered, including ensuring that all 42 of our Integrated Care Systems have a shared care record in place and the agreement of a target architecture for health and care. But we now need to move deeper into delivery, so more people can enjoy the benefits of a modern, data-driven health and care service.”