What does the election result mean for the NHS and the IT healthcare sector in particular?
Not quite sure what just happened in the Department of Health? You could be mistaken for getting the headlines of the 12th May 2015 confused with those of 12th June 2017 “ New health ministers join UK Government’s health team; Hunt remains in charge.” (The Pharmaceutical Journal 12th May 2015).
So is it all just same old same old? Definitely not. The difference is that the PM is fighting to stay in power and compromise seems to be the flavour of the moment. We don’t yet know who will be the two new ministers to join Jeremy Hunt and we are apparently facing an unprecedented delay to the Queen’s Speech as Mrs May tries to pull together a Queen’s Speech that the Government will be able to deliver.
On the first day after the election I met with three Trusts and a healthcare software supplier and we all wanted to know what all this will mean for the digital agenda?
Well firstly there is no doubt that money will still be tight but we can hope that the impact of the other parties and the close numbers will mean that there may be a bit more sympathy, even if at the end of the day the purse contains exactly the same amount.
Who will be in charge? Jeremy Hunt is still the SoS and we wait to hear who will be joining him. Simon Stevens may see the events of the last few days as an opportunity to take a strong lead as the cabinet are distracted by Brexit and balancing votes. There is no replacement yet as far as we understand for the NHSI Chair and CEO. Some of us have always been confused by the boundaries between NHS England, where there are digital staff working on Information Strategies, and NHS Digital. Maybe that will be clarified?
Cyber security will be funded and GDPR is a certainty for the NHS. Whilst some like to hope that the NHS will be exempt we know that won’t happen. As a citizen, and sometimes patient, I want to know that the NHS, which has even more information about me than Facebook, is secure and that it will comply in full with the GDPR requirements by March 2018.
The STP (yes plans not processes) have taken a battering during the election and are not of particular interest to the DUP anyway, but Northern Ireland is committed to an “Electronic Health and Care Record for NI that will help revolutionise the delivery of health and social care for patients. It will provide accurate up to date and complete information about patients at every point of care“…… sound familiar?
The NHS has still got to reduce indirect costs and that is what digital can deliver. So maybe whilst the STP’s slow down the individual organisations will get on with some of their projects which have huge Return on Investment potential.
In my opinion Anne Cooper, Chief Nurse NHS Digital, has it right. We have to make sure we are building a future which harnesses the power of the IT enabled patient. If you think about care and wellbeing it starts in the home, and in the future we will all want a model that has people caring for themselves expertly at home, knowing when and how to get the help they need, and what to do when they are back at home. The patient is part of their digital record and can influence their digital map.
So whilst the cabinet fiddles let’s hope that everyone can continue to deliver. At Ideal we will continue to work together with our NHS Partners to ensure that IT and Vision are aligned, benefits are achieved, systems are smoothly implemented and secure, and we build a digital NHS that delights not frustrates. Not sure we can guarantee that the political process will achieve the same feeling of delight though!
Author: Jill DeBene – Delivery Director Ideal Health