Last reviewed 5 July 2022

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced a new plan for digital health and social care that sets out a vision for a digitally-enabled health and social care system and how this can be achieved.

The plan collates existing digital strategies and guidance into one single action plan, which outlines the Government’s priorities for digital transformation, and begins to set out the support that will be available to local systems to enable the necessary changes.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said in his speech at the Policy Exchange, that a single, lifelong, joined-up health and social care record will be created for everyone, giving patients a chance to access their own data, universally, by 2024.

This will build on work done to accelerate the adoption of electronic patient records, so that all clinical teams in the new integrated care systems (ICSs) will have secure and appropriate access to a complete view of a person’s health record.

Currently, 86% of NHS trusts have a form of electronic patient record in place and are on target to hit the aim of 90% by the end of next year — however, just 45% of social care providers have any form of digital care records.

The plan commits to 80% of CQC-registered social care providers having digital social care records in place by March 2024 and ensuring that electronic patient records are in place across ICSs in England by March 2025.

Sajid Javid said that by bringing all of the NHS’s digital bodies such as NHSX and NHSD together into NHS England, ownership of digital transformation will “sit right at the top of the NHS”.

The Government will also focus on developing digital skills, leadership and culture, so transformation can be achieved across the board.

The plan also sets out how the most can be made of new technologies. Remote monitoring has allowed patients to use technology to monitor their condition from home, which has been especially valuable during the pandemic. He said over 280,000 people have already used remote monitoring at home or in care homes for long-term conditions in the last year, and the plan shows how up to a further 500,000 people can be supported in this way by March 2023.

New diagnostics capacity will also be developed to enable image sharing and clinical decision support based on artificial intelligence. This will support testing at or close to home, streamlining of pathways, triaging of waiting lists, faster diagnoses and levelling up under-served areas.

A Plan for Digital Health and Social Care is available on the GOV.UK website