The Department of Health has published a new digital strategy that sets out its ambition to have digital tools and techniques embedded throughout its work.
The DH’s strategy includes commitments to improve the development and impact of its open policymaking, and increase the effectiveness of its communications to, and engagement with, audiences and stakeholders.
It is also looking to develop the digital skills it needs across the organisation improve its day-to-day efficiency, whilst also stewarding the health and care system towards a ‘health information revolution’.
It will do all of this by educating policymakers in the use of digital and adopt a ‘digital first’ approach to all communications activity and evaluation, starting with a formal pilot in early 2013.
It will also look to build upon the work already completed, such as the NHS Choices website and app that have been used by millions on UK residents in the past year.
The idea is for the DH to become more transparent about its processes by sharing more information – and being more communicative – in the digital space.
This comes a year after the UK Government, led by then health secretary Andrew Lansley, began its ‘Maps and Apps’ programme, that will lead to GPs being able to ‘prescribe’ apps for patients.
Dr Dan Poulter, Parliamentary under-secretary of state for health, said: “Going digital means that public services can be more efficient, more transparent and more effective. The government’s digital strategy has a bold and simple ambition: to re-design government services, to place them online and to make them straightforward and convenient.
“There are many advantages to going digital, both for users and for taxpayers. The most obvious improvement will be making public services easier to use, giving people access to services online, reducing the number of forms they need to fill in, giving people the information they need to help them in their everyday lives.”
Dr Poulter added that some technologies – notably telehealth and telecare that allows patients to be treated at home - is a “powerful way to improve services while significantly reducing costs,” suggesting that this strategy can save as much as £1.8 billion every year.