NHSX launches strategy to improve patient safety through digital technology

Medicine doctor hand working with modern computer interface as concept

NHSX in collaboration with NHS Digital and NHS England and NHS Improvement, has published the Digital Clinical Safety Strategy to help the NHS provide a safer service for patients.

The guide sets out a vision and recommendations to make care safer for patients, use digital to improve safety and expand staff access to digital safety.

WHY IT MATTERS

As the use of digital technology is scaling up in health and care service to improve care for patients, there is an increasing need for staff to be trained in digital safety.

Under the proposals, more information on digital clinical safety will be collected through systems like the Learning from Patient Safety Events Service and access to digital safety training for staff will be expanded. 

The strategy commits to capturing data on digital clinical safety issues for the first time; consolidating digital clinical safety resources into one place; and promoting how to do digital clinical safety well, working with blueprinting teams to create digital safety best practice blueprints.

It also commits to a new model for digital clinical safety training across the digital health workforce, with a focus on patient safety specialists, chief clinical information officers (CCIOs), chief information officers (CIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs) and wider frontline teams.

The programme will be accelerating adoption of digital technology to improve the recording of medical devices implanted in patients at the point of care and establishing new information systems to collect, link and analyse outcomes by procedure.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

NHSX leaders are currently working on a new assessment framework that aims to improve the current digital maturity index and support trusts to digitise more quickly. 

ON THE RECORD

Natasha Phillips, chief nursing information officer and director of patient safety at NHSX, said: “Safety is everyone’s responsibility and as a nurse, I know very well the importance of delivering safe care and what it looks like when everyone contributes to a culture of safety.

“Digital technology offers an opportunity to improve safety in clinical care through better reporting and monitoring, but we also need to ensure that new digital technologies are introduced safely.

“We will be empowering staff with the knowledge and skills to ensure safety will help us build a culture where safety is at the heart of all that we do. 

“Through this Digital Clinical Safety Strategy, we provide a collaborative national direction towards the enhanced safety of digital technologies that is fit for the future.”

Professor Jonathan Benger, chief medical officer at NHS Digital, said: “Throughout the past 18 months data and technology have played a vital role in protecting the public, from setting up the Shielded Patient List to the roll-out of the vaccine programme.

“This new initiative has allowed NHSX, NHS Digital, NHS England and Improvement, and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to work together to build on both the National Patient Safety Strategy and the experience we’ve gained during the pandemic. This means the NHS can continue to develop and deploy safe digital technologies that improve health and save lives.”

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