Move To ‘Internet First’ Announced For NHS

Secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock recently delivered a speech at the King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress where he talked about the move towards making the NHS an ‘internet first’ organisation.

That means a shift away from private networks to a system that can be run entirely over the internet. He also spoke of the importance of open sourcing all the code that’s developed in the NHS to allow others to create systems that can work with the organisation, rather than separate from it.

“This will open the ecosystem, so that charities will be able to build apps for patients with specific conditions, and the NHS can run off-the-shelf stuff that works well everywhere else,” Mr Hancock stated.

He also spoke openly of the struggles he’s faced in trying to get the NHS to standardise its approach to digital systems. The example he gave was a seven-month process to make emails rather than letters the default method of communication with patients.

Detailing the internet first policy, the NHS Digital website notes that all new digital services need to operate over the internet and that existing services should be updated to do the same “at the earliest opportunity and ideally by March 2021”.

The organisation is running a series of webinars to get feedback from those working in health and social care, as well as digital service suppliers, about how best to implement the internet first policy and how to achieve the goals it’s set by the 2021 deadline. There will no doubt be many ideas about how to introduce the healthcare cloud to the NHS.