The NHS Commissioning Board will work with a charity to offer 100,000 people access to training in online health literacy over the next year, it has announced.
The board’s national director for patients and information Tim Kelsey said on Thursday it had made the agreement with UK Online Centres, an organisation which specialises in tackling digital exclusion.
The work comes in the run up to the board’s deadline of 2015 for patients to have access to their GP health records.
Mr Kelsey, speaking at the Nuffield Trust’s summit event last week, warned the “really important vision” of opening up the NHS by giving patients more access to digital information created a risk that certain communities would get “left behind”.
He said the initiative with UK Online meant that by 2015 more people would be able to access and understand their health record.
Mr Kelsey also said he wanted to develop the concepts of the citizen scientists and forecasters, which are being adopted in other sectors, to develop the “citizen commissioner” and “citizen clinician”.
He said: “If we could encourage high volumes of people feeding back on the services they are receiving we could affect real transformation in healthcare.”
Mr Kelsey’s extensive proposals for empowering patients through use of information have provoked questions about how they will include those who do not have access to technology, or are not able to use it. That question was raised at the board’s meeting last month by non-executive director Lord Adobowale, who is also the chief executive of charity Turning Point.