Non-clinical social care professionals will be able to view and contribute to patients’ digital health records in England by March 2025, the Government has announced.
A new plan for digital health and social care published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), published on Wednesday, said certain non-clinical social care workers will be able ‘to safely access appropriate information and input data into digital records in real time’.
By March 2025, the aim is for all clinical teams in an ICS to have access to a complete view of a person’s health and social care record (including their medications and key aspects of their history), that they can contribute to.
Digital record-sharing should also be available to other relevant staff, including community midwives and health visitors, said the plan.
The report said that implementing the digital record will ‘help to achieve ambitions set out in the Fuller stocktake report from the NHS Confederation’ on integrating general practice in new ICSs and better address clinical needs.
It said: ‘In particular, primary care networks (PCNs), including their partners in third-sector organisations, pharmacies, high-street optometrists and community diagnostic centres (CDCs), will benefit from the seamless flow of data between frontline teams.’
To enable this to happen, GP digital records must use ‘cloud native architecture’, said the plan. The Government is to ensure that modern, integrated, secure and user-friendly digital systems are available to primary care through the GPIT Operating Model and Digital Care Services catalogue by March 2025.
The DHSC plan also said that some GP practices will be able to offer patients online triage and message-based consultations from now (June 2022) if it has been enabled for their surgery.
And it added that ‘individuals, their approved caregivers and their care team’ should have the ‘ability to view and contribute to the record’ by 2024.
In addition, the report said primary care is to use technology to streamline routine tasks and pilot automation of ‘appointment management tasks’ by March 2025 such as telephone-answering, letter-writing, and document-scanning.
And it said data will be used for real-time management of primary care by commissioners by the same deadline. The report also set out Government plans to strengthen NHS 111 as the ‘entry point’ to urgent care. It said this would be achieved by supporting better integration of primary care and urgent emergency care by March 2025.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘We are embarking on a radical programme of modernisation that will make sure the NHS is set up to meet the challenges of 2048 – not 1948, when it was first established.
‘Ensuring more personalisation and better join-up of the system will benefit patients, free up clinician time, and help us to bust the Covid backlogs.’
However, the DHSC report set out the caveat that many of the actions it describes ‘still require business cases that require HM Treasury approval’.