Lord Holmes of Richmond
Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics
Policy Manager for Health, Policy Connect
Digital solutions can tackle some of the health and social care sector’s greatest challenges. They can support a more efficient service that maximises the benefits for users such as patients and doctors.
Combining different services through data sharing will increase the speed and efficacy of diagnosis and treatment. Implementing digital technologies means that people can access their healthcare at any time.
Different services would lead to easier access to patient data, speeding up referral times and transitions between services. Communication between health professionals, patients and carers would be better. For example, having a single app would speed up a patient’s contact with their GP, physiotherapist and pharmacist. Digital solutions would also allow remote monitoring of patients and a reduction in hospital bed days. These capabilities will benefit both the individual and the sector.
Having a single app would speed up a patient’s contact with their GP, physiotherapist and pharmacist.
We, therefore, welcome the Government working on innovative digital solutions for health and social care — a central pillar in its ambition for health services. This could provide a springboard to integrate all aspects of health and social care — a key tenet of the Health and Care Act and reflected in the ‘Data Saves Lives’ Strategy published on 13 June 2022.
Trust with data
Making use of patient data is critically dependent on public trust. The Government needs to recognise and address the fact that public perception of the storage and use of health data has reached an all-time low. Last year, attempts to encourage shared patient records resulted in widespread pushback from Parliamentarians, clinicians and the public due to concerns about data access and security.
Building trust is essential if the currently disjointed systems for data collection and sharing across the health service are to be modernised through technology. We need to get rid of the sector’s 20th-century infrastructure and use technology that people are familiar with. This means dealing with public concerns surrounding the use of patient data. The Government should ask itself why — even now — nearly 5 million people actively use the independent Zoe health app launched to help with Covid-19 tracking to record how they are feeling. Perhaps, they can learn from this.
Policy Connect, together with the All-Party Health Group (APHG) and All-Party Parliamentary Group for Data Analytics (APGDA) will continue to come forward with ideas on effective data management and its potential for innovation, research, patient care and staff efficiency as part of its upcoming programme.