Transformation Directorate

Digitising the frontline

Making the best use of Electronic Patient Record (EPR) systems to support the delivery of efficient, effective and safe care.

Levels of digitisation across health and social care are mixed. In order to maximise the benefits of digital transformation for patients and clinicians, and to harness the power of data, the NHS is investing £1.9bn to ensure we have the right digital foundations in place.

This investment will support the roll-out of EPRs to drive care quality and efficiency which, in turn, will release billions of pounds back to the NHS. In addition, the Government is providing £75m to enable Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to scale up use of Digital Social Care Records (DSCRs).

The COVID-19 pandemic enabled us to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies that might have otherwise taken several years. As we continue to recover NHS and social care services, it is critical that we build on this progress and ensure that all health and social care providers have interoperable record systems in place.

This will help ensure that health and care staff have the technology they need to do their jobs, and that these systems can talk to each other to share vital information to support the delivery of care without adding additional burden. It will also help ensure people have an improved, safer experience of care, more convenient access to care, and the support of new tools that allow them to manage their own health and wellbeing needs.

The NHS Long Term Plan and our Plan for Digital Health and Social Care committed all trusts to meeting a core level of digitisation and to implementing an EPR, reiterated in What Good Looks Like. Investment and support will be targeted to where it is needed most. The Plan for Digital Health and Social Care also committed to 80 percent of social care providers having a DSCR in place by March 2024.

Through the Frontline Digitisation programme, we will work to level up NHS trusts to a baseline level of digital capability. Our investment in digitising the frontline will ensure that health and care staff have access to health-related information when and where it is needed, supporting them to deliver care efficiently, effectively and safely, reducing variation and improving outcomes.

Wider use of EPRs will also allow for levelling up at an ICS level, which will improve the patient experience as they move between local NHS organisations and increase service efficiency. The “Integrated Care Systems: design framework” sets out a much broader requirement for ICSs to consolidate their digital infrastructure. NHS England is working to support ICSs to enable integrated care through the consolidation and convergence of their digital infrastructures where appropriate. By simplifying the current complex digital landscape, we can take further steps to ensure all citizens and professionals involved in the care of an individual have appropriate access to the right information at the right time to provide care.

In social care, DSCRs will be used as the primary source of information for care staff. They will capture care the help provided in accordance with an individual’s personalised care and support plan as well as providing access to key information from their health records. This frees up time that can be spent with individuals, as well as equipping people with the information they need to ensure that the care is as safe as possible.

What Good Looks Like

The What Good Looks Like guidance sets out a common vision for good digital practice to empower frontline leaders to accelerate digital transformation in their organisations. The guidance has seven success measures that local systems and trusts across England should aim to reach, and it was included in the 2021 to 2022 Operational Planning and Contracting Guidance, and the Integrated Care System (ICS) Design Framework.

NHS England will conduct ongoing digital maturity assessments with the NHS based on the seven success measures for What Good Looks Like. These assessments will support local systems and trusts to baseline their level of digital maturity and to prioritise and plan local digital investment.

Levelling up

Levelling up the digital capabilities of NHS trusts will provide the building blocks for integrated care, population health and providing citizens with access to their health records. It will support local systems and trusts to improve both individual patient outcomes and service delivery, ensuring that services can digitise, connect and transform, irrespective of geography.

Levelling up requires a whole system approach. We will build on the successes of previous digital programmes and work in partnership with local systems and trusts, across all care settings and at all stages of their digital transformation journey.