Healthcare leaders in England are moving plans for a high-tech NHS up a gear with a series of changes designed to improve services and transform care, including the possibility of free Wi-Fi across the NHS.

The National Information Board is currently looking at the feasibility of turning the entire NHS estate into a free Wi-Fi zone which, NHS England says, will cut the administrative burden on healthcare staff and open the door to patient monitoring through ‘wearable’ technology.

Also under the plans, patients should get access to their entire digital health record in real time by 2018, while healthcare professionals are to get access by 2018 for primary, urgent and emergency care services and by 2020 for all others. 

NHS Choices will be the “digital front door” for online patient services, offering a portal for ordering prescriptions, accessing apps and digital tools, video/online GP consultations; and uploading health data from devices.

Elsewhere, a new online library of NHS approved digital tools, resources and apps with a proven track record of helping people to live healthier lives will be launched, to help support the NHS’ National diabetes prevention programme.

The proposals, said HSCIC chief executive Andy Williams, are “a major step forward in using technology, data and information to transform the delivery of England’s health and social care services”.