National Health Service invests more than $5B in digital health initiatives

Britain's National Health Service has appropriated £4 billion ($5.83 billion) for a digital health initiative to further use of electronic records and online appointments, prescriptions and consultations.

The goal is to make NHS paperless by 2020, a goal critics point out was supposed to happen in previous efforts by 2018, according to BBC News.

The new effort includes:

  • £1.8 billion to create a paper-free NHS and remove outdated technology like fax machines
  • £1 billion for cybersecurity and data consent
  • £750 million to transform out-of-hospital care, medicines and digitize social care and emergency care
  • About £400 million to build a new website, develop apps and provide free Wi-Fi

As envisioned in the National Information Board's Personalised Health and Care 2020 Framework, the effort will offer digital services to patients and healthcare professionals; provide information-sharing and transparency; and bring together the NHS with local government, clinical leaders, and civil society to oversee healthcare delivery.

The plan calls for at least 10 percent of patients to use computers, tablets or smartphones to access GP services by March 2017. By 2020, a quarter of patients with long-term conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer should be able to monitor their health remotely.

An initiative to improve chronic care, including remote monitoring, wearables, video link consultations and connected clothing, reportedly could save the NHS up to £5 billion over the next decade.

However, cybersecurity and transparency have been issues. A recent report noted an "alarming" lack of cybersecurity measures in place for NHS mobile devices. And data for 700,000 patients has been shared without their permission by a NHS agency that told Parliament it doesn't have the resources to handle the amount of requests made by patients to not have their data shared.

To learn more:
- here's the BBC News article
- read the framework (.pdf)