Matt Hancock, health secretary, has announced major improvements to general practice IT and more support for NHS Trusts to improve cyber security, as part of a new “ambitious tech overhaul”.
Under the new plans top technology companies will be challenged to develop new, innovative GP IT systems to empower patients to access more health services online and through their phones.
In the past three months alone, the NHS has prevented more than 21 million potential cyber attacks – like the global WannaCry attack, which affected more than 100,000 computers in 100 countries, caused the NHS to cancel over 20,000 appointments - and new measures will help defend vital systems such as MRI scanners and refrigeration units storing organs and drugs.
In a speech at the King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress, the health secretary announced the new GP IT Futures framework, which will create an open, competitive market to encourage the best technology companies to invest in the NHS.
He commented, “I believe it should be as easy for a GP surgery to switch IT provider as it is for a small business to switch bank accounts. Under the new contract, providers will have to follow our standards on interoperability and data access. Systems will need to be continuously upgradeable. Patient data will need to be securely hosted in the cloud.
“Sick patients should not be having to explain ‘why are you here’ for the umpteenth time every time they meet a new clinician, or carting round bulging folders of notes from appointment to appointment. Your medical records should be accessible from wherever you are, just as you can get to your emails from any device.”
The new plan will mean supplying cloud-based, modern systems that can share life-saving patient information seamlessly and securely - from GPs to hospitals and social care settings.