The NHS is poised to ask members of the public to help shape how the health service uses their health data in an effort to improve patient care.
From the new year and until March 2025, a series of major events will gather public views on digital and data transformation in the NHS. The large-scale events will give the public a genuine means of informing and helping to shape policies around the use of their health data.
Key topics to be discussed include the Federated Data Platform, a software platform that joins up existing NHS data in order to accelerate diagnoses, and reduce both waiting times and hospital stays.
The new campaign builds on the ‘Powered by Data’ campaign that NHS England launched in June, to help showcase where health data has been able to deliver significant benefits for both patients and more broadly for society.
That campaign highlighted the crucial role of joined-up data during the covid-19 pandemic – where analysis of local data helped to anticipate the virus, and identify and protect the most vulnerable through the vaccination programme.
Dr Vin Diwakar, national director of transformation at NHS England, said: “Better use of data brings huge benefits for patients, ensuring more joined-up care and better use of NHS resources, and leading to faster cancer diagnosis, shorter wait times for elective operations and reduced stays in hospitals.
“Public support is integral to how we better use data to improve care – and the best way to do this is through effective and meaningful engagement. Over the course of next year, we will continue to highlight how data is used across the health and care system and it is vital that we involve the public in shaping future data use and how it can save lives.”
The planned series of events will ensure that NHS England meets its commitment outlined in the government’s Data Saves Lives strategy, to develop products with the involvement of the public.
They will also give the public the opportunity to discuss and find out more about the major programmes already contained in the data strategy which aim to provide patients with a simpler, more meaningful choice about their data.
Nicola Perrin, MBE, chief executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities, said: “Better use of NHS data is essential for so many things to improve our health – from individual care, to research to planning services, but the public must have confidence in the safeguards that protect their data.
“Public engagement is vital to understand properly what public expectations are, and to help design a system that uses patient data for health benefit.”
The news comes just months after the OneLondon Citizen Advisory Group finalised a set of recommendations to help inform the London Health Data Strategy.