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Sajid Javid calls for the UK to ‘level up’ digital health inequalities

Fitness & Health:

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said the UK must “level up” digital health inequalities to ensure the long-term sustainability of health and social care.

One in 10 NHS trusts are still operating on paper-based systems and 71% of the social care sector has no digital access to information on patients’ medication, according to figures revealed by Javid at the Founders Forum Health Tech Summit this week.

“Despite the great progress of recent years, too much of the system doesn’t currently have the basics in place, which frustrates patients and makes life harder for colleagues on the frontline,” Javid said in his virtual keynote address.

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In the speech, which took place during London Tech Week today (21 Sept), Javid said the opportunities of digital transformation should be “spread fairly” by shoring up cybersecurity capability, replacing out of date technology and supporting the adoption of shared care records.

He stated that 88% of integrated care systems will have a shared record in place by the end of September – up from 65% six months ago.

Also, he said clear digital standards were being developed to encourage innovation and multiple funds for tech transformation would be consolidated into a single fund. 

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WHY IT MATTERS

Javid said that digital transformation was essential to increase the time spent on patient care and could mean releasing more than 10 hours of care worker time per care home each week.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

In his speech, Javid praised “coders, developers, and innovators” for helping the NHS during the “seismic change” of the pandemic.

He acknowledged digital health successes including the online coronavirus diagnosis service, the vaccination booking system and use of primary care data to create the world’s largest analysis of coronavirus risk factors.

Also he noted the NHS app, which allows people to view the NHS COVID Pass, has now reached 16 million users, compared to four million in May.

More than 300,000 people are being supported at home through digital solutions for monitoring long-term conditions, such as pulse oximeters which allow patients to measure their blood oxygen levels, he said.

Javid also highlighted the creation of the AI Health and Care Award, which is making £140 million available over three years for AI technology and the creation of the What Good Looks Like digital framework, which sets out standards for digital maturity.

ON THE RECORD

Javid said: “Now we’ve seen what health tech can do at a time when health systems around the world were under incredible strain, we must build on the progress that we’ve all seen and deliver this long-awaited digital revolution.

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“First, we need to get the basics right and make sure that the great advances we’ve seen are replicated across the whole of NHS and social care.”

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