NHS Voices blogs

Digital health technologies

Experts insights on the COCIR digital health committee.
Sarah Collen

21 January 2020

On 21 January we were invited to speak to the digital health committee of COCIR, the trade body for medical imaging and digital health technologies. The committee was interested in learning about the UK's new agency, NHSx and its priorities for digitalisation in the NHS.

Sarah Collen, Senior Policy Manager at the NHS Confederation's European Office, was able to share some of the detail of the ambitions of NHSx to ensure that the UK's health services are more effective and efficient, building on the recommendations of the 2016 Wachter report - these recommendations have been included in the NHS Long Term Plan. 
Sarah explained that NHSx's digitalisation project would need to deal with legacy issues of the past, and would seek to do so by listening to the healthcare workforce to establish why digitalisation has had such a limited uptake to date. For example, login times to IT systems have been identified as a key issue, with staff sometimes taking up to 30 mins to log on. Just this week, the government has recently made available £40m to address this specific problem. 

Sarah highlighted that there are two significant data sharing initiatives running across the NHS, both of which involve populations of significant scale: 

  • Health Research Data UK (HRD UK), tasked with making sure that NHS and other real world data can be effectively and securely used for research while living up to strict confidentiality principles and 
  • local health and care records exemplars, who will be responsible for making sure that data can be shared primarily for care purposes across the health and care sector. 

Sarah also explained that NHSx is working on the establishment of an NHS AI lab, building on the Code of Conduct for data driven health and care technologies. The new NHS AI lab will work with the Accelerated Access Collaborative and HRD UK to ensure AI can be used for the benefit of the NHS and its patients. 

COCIR members were keen to express their interest in the AI work being undertaken by the UK and their willingness to collaborate in areas on mutual interest going forward.

More information on the NHSx AI work can be found here.

Conference: COCIR digital health committee, Brussels, 22 January 2020