New report provides recommendations to achieve interoperability in the NHS

A new report, published by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), has put the focus back onto the interoperability of health and care records.

9 December 2022

The report aims to position interoperability as essential to digital transformation of the NHS, and highlights five key recommendations, which it states are necessary for a national initiative to achieve interoperability.

The recommendations include:

  • The introduction of legislation to underwrite agreed national data standards, and mandate NHS organisations and social care bodies to use them for patient records
  • Extension of the 2024 deadline for NHS trusts to achieve a “core level of digitisation”, taking account of the impact of Covid-19
  • Publication of a technology implementation plan for health and care, including a budget with clear milestones and measurable actions for achieving full interoperability
  • The provision of seed funding for accelerated trials of the Trusted Research Environment model
  • Commissioning a data security team to help NHS trusts meet the Cyber Essentials Plus standard.

Speaking after the report’s publication, Dr Lisa Cameron, MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on health, stated:

“The interoperability of medical records in the NHS is a very daunting task. Obstacles arise including the sharing of highly sensitive personal health information. Shared health record systems have to conform to the UK’s strong legal protections for patient confidentiality and link up technologies developed within a complex network of organisational silos.

“I would like to sincerely thank the IET and all contributors for constructing this report. It highlights key elements of a framework for interoperability.

“There must be robust protections for patient confidentiality; national data and content standards; localised delivery of integrated patient records; and development of the health informatics profession and I support the IET’s work in this area.”

As work continues to move towards interoperability for patient records, and the report’s recommendations are actioned, a framework for implementation will benefit ICSs through consistency and support. With access to records a recurring pain point for patients and their families, the publication of this report on the journey to achieving the goal of interoperability will be welcome news.

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