In October 2015, Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt announced that US digital health author and clinician Professor Robert Wachter would lead a review of NHS computer systems. Professor Wachter chaired the National Advisory Group on Health Information Technology in England, which was set up as an advisory committee for the review.
The group reported back in September 2016 on digitising the secondary care system and using information technology to improve the NHS. The report identified several factors for success, in particular a staged approach to implementing digitisation in health care systems, and the promotion of interoperability (the ability of computer systems or software to share information) and data sharing.
The report's ten recommendations included the development of trained clinician-informaticists and the penalisation (both financial and regulatory) of trusts not reaching a high degree of digital maturity by 2023.
NHS England had already completed another of the group’s recommendations before the review was published, by announcing the appointment of Professor Keith McNeill as the first NHS Chief Clinical Information Officer in July. The creation of the role aimed to provide national leadership of NHS clinical digitisation.
Later, updating NHS IT systems was a priority for Matt Hancock, who became Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in 2018 and launched his technology vision in a policy paper entitled ‘the Future of Healthcare’. He established NHSX early the following year, to take forward his vision of digital transformation in the NHS.
Making IT Work: Harnessing the Power of Health Information Technology to Improve Care in England.
Department of Health; 2016.
Hunt J. Professor Wachter’s Review of Information Technology in Healthcare: Written statement - HCWS134.
UK parliament; 2016.
Department of Health and Social Care.
NHSX: new joint organisation for digital, data and technology.
UK government; 2019.