Further details on the NHS digital strategy will be revealed this June while a 10-year strategic vision document for health sector IT will be published in December, V3 has learnt.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said in January the NHS would be paperless by 2018 while the government also wants to give people the ability to access their health records held by their GP by 2015.
In an exclusive interview Beverley Bryant, who's leading this work in her role as director of strategic systems and technology for the NHS Commissioning Board, told V3 how she intends to create this digital NHS.
Bryant said she is currently creating a 10-year strategic vision for the NHS and this will be published in December this year.
"I'm in charge of the paperless part. The ambition is massive. What's needed now is more detail."
Bryant said key to this strategy is that the NHS should be able to communicate with patients through their preferred method of communication, be it digitally or on paper.
As such, in June she will release her initial plan for how local NHS trusts should become digital.
However, she believes a lot of the IT planning and decisions for the national digital strategy needs to be made at a local level. The June plan will be focussed on standards she expects from local NHS Trusts, to ensure systems they put forward can all connect with each other on a national level.
By April 2014 local NHS providers will be expected to feed back to the NHS Commissioning Board on their digital strategies and on how they intend to give patients access to their health records.
"We are looking at implementing the strategy at both the national and local level. Many clinicians want ownership, so maybe a patient's core health records are held locally but the system could do a quick search nationally to track down further information. [The electronic health record] system can be comprehensive but it doesn't need to be one big database."
"Also if we create systems that all work centrally, they will quickly become out of date. We need a system that works with GPs and can be fast moving."
Bryant said she is currently consulting with private sector IT suppliers and members of the health sector on the paperless strategy. She is also speaking to patients on the type of health record system they want in place.
"We're putting patient groups together so we can test ideas. We don't want to just meet the needs of middle class England. It's also important we have a conversation with both patients and clinicians at the same time. We want to make sure the very first steps are the right steps," she said.
"People think they know how the public wants to access their records but let's ask them."
Bryant said she is considering re-using parts of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), the development of which has been largely scrapped by the current government, due to continued installation setbacks, data management problems and a cost that amounted to over £12bn.
Bryant suggested that parts of the NPfIT could be saved. "I'm not intending on just taking a knee jerk reaction and scrapping the NPfIT," she said. "We may dump it, but it's unlikely we will dump all elements."
One area of the NPfIT that Bryant intends to keep and develop is the national electronic referral service, Choose and Book, which gives patients a choice of place, date and time for their first outpatient appointment in a hospital or clinic.
In May Bryant intends to relaunch the system, having resolved functional difficulties to make it easier to use.
Bryant also said she had not ruled out previous ideas put forward by the Tories, when campaigning for government in 2010, which would see patients manage their health records through the use of Microsoft HealthVault or GoogleHealth.
"We haven't ruled out anything, although the security and information governance is absolutely crucial. We could give records to Microsoft and Google but my personal view is that the system needs a more distributed architecture. Although at the same time it's important that it's not distributed 2012 times."
Bryant took up her current role on the 1 January this year. Prior to this she has worked at Capita as the managing director of its Health Division and was also the chief information officer at the Department of Health.
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