03 Feb 2021

techUK publishes Ten Point Plan for Healthtech to accelerate the digitisation of the health and care sector

In light of the developments the UK’s health and care sector has undertaken due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading technology trade association techUK is today launching the Ten Point Plan for Healthtech, a new report setting out 10 recommendations for public sector stakeholders to help ensure that digital technology is at the forefront of improving outcomes for citizens and transforming how care is delivered nationally.

As digital technology starts to play a more central role to the delivery of health and care, supporting staff, patients and citizens, the Ten Point Plan outlines a set of priorities for transformation from industry, focusing on:  

  • Empowering the public
  • Embedding standards and interoperability
  • Digitising social care
  • Supporting the health and social care workforce
  • Reforming business environment and procurement.

In collaboration with techUK members, healthtech companies, and drawing on the techUK Health and Social Care team and Council’s work with representatives across NHSX, NHS Digital, the Professional Record Standards Body, INTEROPen, Health Education England, the NHS Digital Academy, the Shuri Network and more, the report reinforces the importance of working collaboratively with industry to build a world-leading digital health and care service.

Julian David, techUK CEO, said:  

“The past year has highlighted the essential role that digital health technology can play in supporting the NHS and care sector to deliver better outcomes for patients. Building on recent successes, this paper distills  several complex challenges and issues that the health and social care sector faces into ten logical and, importantly, achievable recommendations. The health of the population is the highest priority and this document offers an essential roadmap for working in partnership with the system to improve the delivery of care across the board.”   

Andreas Haimböck-Tichy, Chair of the techUK Health and Social Care Council; Director, Healthcare & Life Sciences, IBM UK and Ireland, said: 

“The techUK Ten Point Plan for Healthtech is successful in aligning the many views of members into one, holistic policy paper. When taken together, it is the authoritative perspective on what will enable the Tech Industry to support an ambitious and modern health care system. As we look ahead to the rest of 2021, these recommendations also provide the bedrock for a raft of possible reforms to ensure the UK provides excellent health and social care services to its citizens and is an attractive place for healthtech businesses.”

Victoria Betton, Vice Chair of the techUK Health and Social Care Council; Chief Innovation Officer, Mindwave Ventures, said:

“With input from a wide range of industry experts, this paper goes a long way to cast an examining eye on the longstanding challenges that have held back health care for years. Throughout, it highlights the importance of a highly-trained and digitally-empowered workforce, a well-informed public and improved procurement practices across the system. Policymakers, technologists, clinicians and innovators should consider these recommendations and look, both at a local and national level, to understand how to support their implementation.”

techUK Ten Point Plan for Healthtech.pdf

Summary of recommendations 

  1. Putting the power into the hands of the public 

The health service should prioritise improving citizens’ access to their own data, enabling them to make data-driven, informed decisions about their own care.  

  1. Developing world-class digital health and care standards 

NHSX should continue to work with industry to ensure the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) is fit for purpose; raise awareness and support commissioners to understand and utilise the DTAC accordingly; work with third-party assessors to maintain a pipeline of innovation; and engage with the relevant stakeholders to realise a functional reimbursement model for citizen-facing digital health technology.  

  1. Communicating the value of digital health  

The NHS should leverage the channels that the public uses to access information about health and care to raise visibility of citizen-facing digital health technology. Stakeholders should consult on creating a mechanism that allows individuals to easily access information about the innovations available through the service within a specific locality, and commissioners to check what is being done across the country.  

  1. Applying an international, open standards first approach 

techUK encourages NHS Digital and NHSX to take an international, open standards first approach as it develops national assets and infrastructure. Further education of NHS staff about what interoperability means in practice will help to reinforce the importance of this approach. 

  1. Centrally mandating, assessing and enforcing the use of interoperability standards 

The Department of Health and Social Care should centrally mandate, assess and enforce the use of interoperability standards through NHSX and NHS Digital. Standards should be locally implemented and co-developed with both industry and the service itself. These should then be collated into a single, searchable interoperability standards registry. This standards registry should be transparent and accessible by end users so they understand what they should adhere to. 

  1. Supporting integration of social care through digital transformation 

The Department for Health and Social Care, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, NHSX and local authorities should work with techUK and other industry associations to establish a commission to audit the structure and digital maturity of the social care landscape. This audit will help industry better support the digital transformation and integration of the health and care system. Having completed the audit, they should define a “target architecture” for care that will help to establish a roadmap for providers to identify what technology they need to implement. 

  1. Increasing digital maturity of staff 

Stakeholders should leverage industry partnerships in the digital upskilling of staff, with a focus on continuing to improve boards’ understanding and confidence of digital; designing clear career pathways for informatics staff; and developing a diverse and inclusive informatics workforce. 

  1. Providing targeted and dedicated investment for digital technology 

Following on from the findings of the recent Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office reports, techUK believes that the vision for a digitally mature system should be delivered through targeted and dedicated investment in technology for health and social care. This funding should be ringfenced and delivered via multi-year budgets that will allow flexibility between Capital (CapEx) and Revenue (OpEx) where appropriate. 

  1. Enshrining the role of the Integrated Care System into law  

In line with the Long Term Plan’s recommendation to establish Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) nationally by April 2021, techUK calls on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to implement plans to establish the role of the ICS in law. This will help to simplify and codify the provider landscape, making it easier for suppliers to engage with the health and care system. 

  1. Streamlining procurement of digital technology 

As part of a comprehensive plan to reform procurement, the health and care sector should pivot towards outcomes as the primary success factor for digital transformation; signpost suppliers to existing frameworks; provide an accurate estimate for their total value; provide specialist training for procurement staff who are buying technology; and prioritise the streamlining of existing and future frameworks by committing to reducing their proliferation.   

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