NHS plan promises empowered and informed patients via digital tools

Originally posted on 11/01/2019 on the Patient Information Forum blog:


People will be empowered, and their experience of health and care transformed by digital tools and information services, promises the NHS Plan published this week by NHS England.

It is no surprise that digitally-enabled care will be mainstreamed across the NHS. It is a key focus of the plan and one of seven chapters is devoted to the topic. To people involved in the production of information and support this chapter may make the most interesting reading.

It makes the following commitments:

  • The NHS will provide a trustworthy place for people to find health information, apps and register to access NHS services.
  • The NHS app will create a standard online way for people to access the NHS, will work seamlessly with other services at national and local level and be integrated into patient pathways.
  • The NHS will work with wider NHS, voluntary sector, developers and individuals in creating a range of apps to support particular conditions.
  • Support for people with long term conditions will be improved by the interoperability of data, mobile monitoring devices and the use of home technologies. By 2020 everyone with a long-term condition will have access to their Summary Care Record via the NHS app.
  • Patients’ Personal Health Records will hold a care plan that incorporates information added by the patient themselves or their authorised carer.

The plan places a focus on national prevention and better care for six priority areas: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, respiratory disease, adult mental health; as well as placing a focus on the needs of children and young people and the old.

By 2021 people with cancer are promised access to personalised care and a care plan with embedded health and well-being information and support.

In diabetes, the expansion of structured education and digital self-management support tools, including access to HeLP Diabetes – an online self-management tool for type 2 diabetes – is promised.

In mental health continued innovation in therapy apps is expected to relieve the pressure on services. It is essential that user experience is captured, and impact measured to ensure these meet the needs of this vulnerable group.

The plan identifies young adults (those between 18-25) as needing specific information and support. This is welcome, particularly for very vulnerable groups like care-leavers, who may have complex health needs.

PIF supports the ambition of the plan and is involved in projects to support implementation. We are continuing the development of the Perfect Patient Information Journey (PPIJ)programme throughout 2019. The IBD pilot site at St Mark’s will enter Phase 3 and a new pilot site in a different therapy area will be added later this year.

We are also working with Dorset Cancer Partnership. The PPIJ approach has been adopted for use across the Accountable Care System and we will be supporting the project to evaluate the impact of information interventions.

PIF sits on the Advisory Board of the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB) which is setting standards for the digital Summary Care Record which will be available to people with LTCs from next year.

We are working with PRSB to widen consultation on the development of the Summary Care Record and will hold a consultation meeting with national health charities next month to ensure it meets the needs of the patients they represent.

The provision of high-quality, evidenced based information, co-created with users is fundamental to the success of the plan. And as the digital tools and care structures become ever more sophisticated, it is essential they meet the digital and health literacy of the most vulnerable populations, otherwise there is a risk the health divide will widen.

It is also fundamentally important for NHS England to draw on the range of high-quality digital tools and services already available from national charities and ensure they are signposted via the NHS App and Summary Care Record. Perhaps most welcome to PIF members will be the commitment to work with national health charities to develop new apps and digital services. However this must extend to all LTCs not just the six national priorites.


You can read three other interesting blogs on the topic of the NHS Long Term Plan via the links below:




Published on: April 17, 2019