The NHS in England has set out its vision for digital, data and technology in healthcare, outlining what it says is needed to support preventative and personalised healthcare.

The policy paper from NHS Digital says the state of online services, basic IT and clinical tools in health and care is far behind where it needs to be. Systems used daily across hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes, pharmacies and community care facilities don’t talk to each other, fail frequently and do not follow modern cyber security practices.

To help unlock the potential of technology in healthcare, the paper proposes focusing on getting the basics right: the digital architecture of the health and care system. To do this the NHS says it will set national open standards for data, interoperability, privacy and confidentiality, real-data access, cyber security and access rules.

This will permit interoperability between different regions and systems but also, crucially, permit a modular approach to IT in the NHS, where tools can be pulled and replaced with better alternatives as vendors develop better products.

Alongside this vision document, NHS Digital has published a new draft NHS digital, data and technology standards framework setting out early thinking in these areas. There is a questionnaire for innovators and suppliers of digital technology to provide comments and feedback on the vision.

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