NHS Long Term Plan harnesses tech to prevent disease

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) has today published its Long Term Plan, which sets out a vision to save half a million lives 'with practical action on major killer conditions and investment in world class, cutting edge treatments' over the next decade. At the heart of the plans is the use of technology for a wide range of purposes from telehealth to genomic screening.

Technology will play a central role in realising the Long Term Plan, helping clinicians use the full range of their skills, reducing bureaucracy, stimulating research and enabling service transformation.

The main message seems to be that prevention is now at the top of the list of priorities: the measures are expected to help prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases. NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: "A renewed focus on prevention including action to help people live healthier lives will stop thousands of people developing life threatening or limiting conditions."

The NHS will become the first health service in the world to offer whole genome sequencing for children with cancer and young people who have a rare genetic disorder. Some of the initiatives for digital transformation:

  • Create straightforward digital access to NHS services, and help patients and their carers manage their health.
  • Ensure that clinicians can access and interact with patient records and care plans wherever they are.
  • Protect patients’ privacy and give them control over their medical record.
  • Link clinical, genomic and other data to support the development of new treatments to improve the NHS, making data captured for care available for clinical research, and publish, as open data, aggregate metrics about NHS performance and services.
  • Mandate and rigorously enforce technology standards (as described in The Future of Healthcare) to ensure data is interoperable and accessible.
  • Encourage a world leading health IT industry in England

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Whether it’s treating ever more people in their communities, using the latest technology to tackle preventable diseases, or giving every baby the very best start in life, this government has given the NHS the multi-billion-pound investment needed to nurture and safeguard our nation’s health service for generations to come."