Wireless internet should be available in every NHS building, in order to reduce the burden of administration on nurses, a digital expert recommended to government.
Martha Lane Fox (pictured), government’s former digital champion, was commissioned by Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, to set out ways to improve the NHS digitally.
She recommended free Wi-Fi in every building so that patients can complete some of their own paperwork online, in order to “reduce the administrative burden on doctors, nurses and care staff”. It would also allow GPs to refer patients to online health tools and apps, in order to encourage more people to use online health tools, she said.
Online services should be used by 10% of all registered patients by 2017, she urged, including online appointment booking, repeat prescriptions and access to records.
The idea is to focus on reaching the “furthest first” – introducing the tools first to people with the most health and social care needs who are the least likely to be online.
This means that extra training will be required for all NHS staff. Fox recommended this is done through “support and mentorship programmes rolled out locally, regionally and nationally.”
The new investment of £1 billion in health technology, which was announced in the autumn statement, will be used to pay for the tools and training,
Speaking to health leaders at the National Information Board summit, Fox said: “In the network age, universality, equity and quality must be at the very centre of how we build, adopt and scale new technologies in health. No-one must be left behind.”