Enabling a public health tech ecosystem – insights from the Digital Citizens roundtable

DM-digital-citizens-roundtable

Digi.me is hugely invested in the future of public-facing health technology, so we were delighted to be invited to take part in a recent industry roundtable.

Hosted by TechUK, our founder and chairman Julian Ranger chaired the event, which was also attended by our VP Health Dan Bayley, alongside representatives from NHS digital, and other interested parties including Graphnet, Roche, Babylon Health and IBM.

The aim behind the event, which was part of the new Digital Citizens working party, is to work together on building the trust and technology necessary to improve public-facing health technology, with a view to improving the openness of health data and empowering the public with data and digital tools.

Within this, increasing public trust is key – particularly if individuals are to allow private companies to access their data – even ones such as digi.me, which does not see, touch or hold any user data.

Data mobility is another key theme that is becoming evermore critical – that information created or housed in one place can be able to be moved freely as required – a requirement under the GDPR legislation, as well as making huge sense generally.

This will become increasingly crucial as we all continue to generate significant amounts of new data every day – traditional organisation-centric models for holding this just will not be able to cope.

NHS Digital, which will shortly be publishing a digital inclusion guide, designed to help the tech industry tackle consumer wariness in digital participation, updated the group on the progress of its upcoming NHS app, which provides a simple and secure way for people to access a range of NHS services on their smartphone or tablet.

Any and all moves to greater increase individuals’ input and oversight into their own health are obviously welcome, but it is also true that health and associated data is a wide field, and one app is unlikely to be all things to all people. Therefore, the group’s primary focus should be creating and enabling a public health technology ecosystem which offers consumers choice.

For this to happen, a clear view of the NHS landscape is needed for both patients and businesses. For example, one key need identified is a single register or document detailing what systems exist at present, where they are and what data they hold, as well as their specifications and when they will be available for direct patient access. This should be openly available online, not published under NDA, or behind layers of bureaucracy.

Many suppliers at the event have signed up to the TechUK Interoperability Charter – it is clear a more concrete move to make this a reality with clear requirements and objectives is necessary.

There is also a clear need for more innovative digital health solutions to be created – alongside that, individuals will need clear guidance about which apps are safe and effective to use.

The NHS apps library, which will soon be launched, will be one way of accrediting apps. There are also bodies such as Orcha, which assures apps and drives digital health adoption. Part of its work enables the safe prescribing of apps, as well as allowing individuals to find the right apps and services for them. Digi.me, of course, also enables individuals to use their data with the apps and services they choose in this patient centricity eco-system.

A second meeting of the working group will be held in July to make more progress on improving patient inclusion and outcomes.

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