Sep 09, 2021

NHSX - a timeline

#nhs
#digitalhealthcare
#hospitals
#technology
3 min
Doctor holding tablet with patient
We take a look at key events in the history of NHSX since its inception.

NHSX is the UK government's unit responsible for setting policy and best practices for digital healthcare and data within the National Health Service (NHS). Following the news that NHSX has released new guidance for NHS trusts to transform digital services for patients, we take a look at key events since the agency was founded. 

2019 - NHSX launches

NHSX launches with Mathew Gould as Chief Executive Officer, with a remit to take forward digital transformation within the NHS, allowing patients and staff to benefit from the latest digital systems and technology. Digitalising the UK's national health system is a key aspect of the NHS Long Term Plan. 

The unit brings together IT teams from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, and NHS Improvement. It is also responsible for commissioning projects from NHS Digital. Three key priorities are identified for NHSX: 

  • Reducing the time clinicians spend inputting and accessing data into NHS systems
  • Making it easier for patients to access NHS services via their smartphones
  • Ensuring that essential diagnostic information can be accessed safely and reliably from wherever a patient may be within the NHS

Later this year Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary at the time announces that every hospital, GP practice and community care service will get fast, full fibre connectivity.

The NHS Artificial Intelligence Lab launches, to find ways the NHS can benefit from advances in AI. Projects include the development of imaging technology, accelerating the detection of diseases, and establishing an ethics framework. 

2020 - The digital needs of the pandemic

NHSX pledges to spend £40 million on improving login times for staff across the health service using single sign-on technology (SSO). 

The target of achieving a paperless NHS by 2020 is pushed back to 2023. 

NHSX commissions an app to monitor the spread of COVID-19. The app alerts users when they have been in contact with someone who has the virus, and allows people to check in to venues to monitor the spread of infection. 

A partnership with Huma is announced to enable remote monitoring of patients at home. 

Use of digital services provided by the NHS soars during the pandemic, with the number of people using the NHS App for ordering repeat prescriptions and accessing advice increasing by around 912%. Additionally, 99% of GP practices are enabled to offer video consultations. 

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Health and Care Award launches, making £140 million available over four years to the most promising AI technologies for health and social care.

2021 - Digitising services

Plans to share patient data with private companies lead to criticism and millions of people choosing to opt out. In June NHSX publishes a new strategy for patient data sharing, after which the plans are put on hold indefinitely. 

NHSX publishes new guidance for NHS to transform services for patients using digital tools. Called 'What Good Looks Like', the framework gives NHS managers instructions on what they should be doing to use digital better in their service, and how they should be paying for it.

Funding of £36 million is given to projects that will use AI to speed up diagnoses for conditions such as lung cancer, heart attacks and spinal fractures. 

NHSX announces the launch of a new cloud-based IT system for cervical screening in England, with the aim of having a single source of data for patient details to reduce delays to screenings. 

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