• NHS Digital predicts focus on patient apps and other digital tools for prevention and self-care
  • Accelerated rollout of regional patient records likely
  • Some digital projects could possibly be scrapped or have funding cut

The long-term plan will likely expand the use of apps for self-care and accelerate the rollout of regional patient records, NHS Digital has said.

In a paper that went to the board on Wednesday, NHS Digital said, while the plan itself had been delayed, it was “expected” to include priorities for digital technology.

These would include:

  • A focus on digital tools for patients for prevention and self-care;
  • Technology to support new clinical pathways for maternity, mental health, diabetes, child and adolescent, and end of life care;
  • Promoting “digital offers for primary care”;
  • Speeding up the rollout of regional shared electronic patient records, called local health and care record exemplars, with a focus on population health;
  • Continuing the rollout of electronic patient records for trusts; and
  • Using NHS data to better support research and innovation.

NHS Digital manages many of the service’s national IT systems, such as NHSmail and the Spine, and has responsibility for delivering parts of the national digital transformation strategy. Its chief executive, Sarah Wilkinson, was one of four NHS leaders selected to develop the long-term plan’s digital and technology workstream.

The priorities outlined are largely a continuation of existing NHS IT programmes and align closely with health and social care secretary Matt Hancock’s ‘tech vision’, published in October.

However, the papers said that priorities will shift under the plan and vision, meaning some NHS Digital existing projects may need to be scaled back or discontinued. These could include health app assessments, personal health records, and integrating pharmacy across care settings.

In October, HSJ revealed that officials believed it would cost up to £13bn over five years for the technology to support ambitions being submitted as part of the long-term plan. This would equate annually to additional tech funding of between £500m to £1.5bn, above the current levels, through to 2023-24.