Access for all? Digital innovation in the NHS

Posted by Eve Piffaretti on
On 8 December 2015, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, pledged that some of the £1billion of new investment allocated for NHS technology projects under the recent spending review will go towards providing free Wi-Fi in all NHS buildings.

This pledge follows a report by Baroness Martha Lane-Fox (the government's "digital champion") on NHS and digital innovations which recommended that such an investment could improve clinical outcomes and patient experience. One of the rationales behind this investment is that:

"Free wi-fi will allow patients staying in hospital to self-monitor their conditions using apps, maintain contact with social networks that can support recovery and crucially help them to stay in contact with family and friends."

Also, such a step is thought to have the potential to reduce the administrative burden on doctors, nurses and care staff, freeing up more time to be spent with patients, and enable safer working practices such as e-prescribing, which has been "known to reduce medication errors by 50%".

The 4 main recommendations by Baroness Lane-Fox to the National Information Board are:

  1. making sure those with the most health and social care needs, who are often the least likely to be online, are included first in any new digital tools being used across the NHS
  2. free wi-fi in every NHS building
  3. building the basic digital skills of the NHS workforce to ensure that everyone has the digital skills needed to support people’s health needs
  4. at least 10% of registered patients in each GP practice should be using a digital service such as online appointment booking, repeat prescriptions and access to records by 2017

Blake Morgan LLP's IT team can assist with the development of on digital access including advice on the IT and Information Governance issues that can arise.

About the Author

Eve heads our Commercial team in Wales and the Public Law Group. She acts for public sector organisations across the UK advising on public law and regulatory issues.

Eve Piffaretti
Email Eve
029 2068 6143

View Profile